ESPN Dallas came up with some preseason power rankings for the Western Conference and listed the Mavericks at sixth. They followed that up with a detailed matchup of each of the five teams ahead of the Mavs.
They listed the San Antonio Spurs at fourth, which I don’t really agree with because they put the Clippers at third. Is that much going to change in one year to where the Spurs go from sweeping the Clips out of the playoffs to being inferior to them? I don’t think so.
That minor detail aside, at least we can both agree that the Spurs are better than the Mavericks. However, despite ranking the Mavs lower, they seemed optimistic about the matchup against their I-35 rivals.
“The first thing that comes to mind is that Duncan will have to expend energy on defense like never before against the Mavs. San Antonio typically has gotten away with Duncan defending the Mavs' center, who, from Erick Dampier to DeSagana Diop to Brendan Haywood to Tyson Chandler and back to Haywood, has not been an offensive threat. So someone other than Duncan has mostly had the privilege of guarding Dirk Nowitzki. This season if, say, Diaw, draws Dirk, Duncan won't have the luxury of only casually defending the Mavs' center. He will now face Chris Kaman, a legitimate back-to-the-basket threat and the most offensively skilled of the Mavs' long list of 7-foot centers. From a Mavs defensive standpoint, new point guard Darren Collison brings needed speed to combat Parker's penetrations and shooting guard O.J. Mayo and Dahntay Jones will be better equipped to help defend Ginobili than the options — mainly Shawn Marion — the Mavs had last season. “
That’s a very enthusiastic review of Chris Kaman. While Kaman is certainly an upgrade from the inept Brendan Haywood, he’s not one of the centers in the league the Spurs need to be afraid of and he should be no problem for Tim Duncan.
Darren Collison is speedy, but it takes a lot more than speed to stop Tony Parker. Parker is playing some of the best basketball of his career right now (assuming he can play next season without the goggles), and I could see him having his way with the Mavs.
Basically, I’m sensing a little bit of “homerism” in this article. The Mavs are on the decline after missing out on Deron Williams and Dwight Howard and with their aging superstar in Nowitzki. Getting swept by the Thunder in this year’s playoffs may have been the beginning of the end for the Mavericks. It’s crazy that it’s coming only one year after winning it all.