Category Archives: Dallas Mavericks, Sports, News

Dallas Mavericks, Sports, News

New predictions: W-L record for every NBA team

Mar 3, 2017

Who’s going to make the playoffs? How will the battle for No. 1 in each conference shake out? And how will the draft lottery races finish?

Trades and injuries have changed the landscape of the NBA in a way that’s challenging for traditional statistical projections to capture. To try to measure the current talent of all 30 teams, I put together projections using the multiyear, predictive version of ESPN’s real plus-minus (RPM) and my best estimate at what rotations will look like going forward.

Then I used those projections to simulate the final six weeks of the regular season 1,000 times. Let’s check out the results, starting in the East, ranked by predicted final win total.

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Nerlens Noel makes case to stay in Mavs’ starting lineup

2:05 AM ET

DALLAS — Nerlens Noel could be presenting Rick Carlisle the kind of problem any coach would want to have, as long as the Dallas Mavericks’ new big man can arrive at the airport on time.

Noel’s first start for the Mavs was delayed a couple of days due to his tardiness in getting to the team plane before this week’s trip to Atlanta. He made up for it with his performance in Friday night’s 104-100 win over the playoff-bound Memphis Grizzlies.

Noel, acquired by Dallas from the Philadelphia 76ers at a discount price in a trade-deadline-day deal, was a major force on both ends of the floor against the Grizzlies. His line: 15 points, a career-high-tying 17 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, a steal and plus-10.

Pretty impressive for a 22-year-old kid whose head is spinning as he tries to digest as much of Carlisle’s massive playbook as possible, not to mention the directions to find the team’s private jet at Love Field.

Nowitzki has started at center with Barnes at power forward for the vast majority of that stretch, and those are the ideal positions for the Mavs’ two best players at this point. Barnes, in particular, has blossomed as a go-to guy during his first season in Dallas in large part because he’s been so effective running the old Dirk iso playbook as a power forward.

But Barnes noted there is a bright side if he sees significant playing time at small forward, his primary position during his stint with the Golden State Warriors. His primary offensive duties with the Warriors were “keeping the lights on with the corner 3,” as he put it. When he plays small forward with the Mavs, he’s often asked to operate as a pick-and-roll ball handler, a new challenge for him.

“It’s still an area I need improving on, but it’s good,” Barnes said. “The iso part, I’ve got a lot of reps at. I’ve done that, so now pick-and-roll is my next step.”

The next step for Noel is keeping his nose in Carlisle’s playbook. He’s essentially cramming for a basketball calculus exam on a daily basis now.

“It’s huge. It’s crazy,” Noel said. “They’re telling me I’m barely learning half of it right now.”

Nowitzki and Noel’s other new teammates occasionally need to push him toward the right spots on offense. They can deal with the big man making mistakes, whether it’s calling the wrong defensive coverage or not running a play properly, as long as he’s going 100 miles per hour.

Besides, Noel’s instincts, length and athleticism can make up for a lot of mistakes. You can live with a learning curve when a guy can make plays like rejecting Marc Gasol at the rim or throwing down a lob in traffic after setting a screen and diving to the rim.

“Playing with energy is contagious,” Noel said. “It puts you in a position to really change the game.”

Noel has put Carlisle in a position to consider changing the starting lineup on a permanent basis.

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Dirk planning to return for 20th season

In his most definitive terms yet, Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki‎ said Friday that he intends to play next season at age 39.

Speaking to ESPN’s Marc Stein on the TrueHoop Conversations podcast, when asked if his return for the 2017-18 season can be considered a lock now, Nowitzki said: “I think so … unless something drastic changes here in the next few weeks or the last few weeks of the season, which I don’t anticipate.

“I said last summer: I signed a two-year deal [and] that obviously meant I want to play for two more,” Nowitzki continued. “I want to complete that deal.‎”

Nowitzki, who will turn 39 in June, is the league’s sixth all-time leading scorer and, entering Friday’s home date with Memphis, sits 48 points shy o‎f joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain on the short list of players to score 30,000 NBA points.

Playing in 2017-18 would give Nowitzki an even 20 seasons in the league with the Mavericks, which would tie Bryant’s record run with ‎one franchise.

Bryant retired after the 2015-16 season, his 20th in a row playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Tim Duncan also retired at season’s end after completing 19 consecutive campaigns with the San Antonio Spurs.

“Twenty is a great number,” Nowitzki told Stein. “I think 20 seasons also with one team, like I’m trying to do it — I think only Kobe has done it — that’s another great accomplishment. So I kinda want to make the 20 fold. Plus that summer I’m turning 40. I think that’s also a good number to be in the league … from 20 to 40. That’s what I’m looking at.‎

“‘Hopefully I’ll finish this season out strong, and then have a decent year, hopefully not as [many] injuries next year.”

Nowitzki played just six of Dallas’ first 29 games this season because of an Achilles injury that began plaguing him in an overtime loss at Indiana on opening night.

The 2007 MVP and 2011 NBA Finals MVP is earning $25 million this season and is under contract next season on a $25 million team option. It remains to be seen whether Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will simply pick up Nowitzki’s full 2017-18 option in June or ask Nowitzki to come to terms on a new deal at a lower salary ‎that helps Dallas create more salary-cap space for free-agent pursuits in July.

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NBA draft trades, lottery picks for 14 teams

Mar 1, 2017

To help you get ready for May’s NBA draft lottery, here’s our ultimate guide to every likely pick, potential trade and much more.

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D. Williams ‘excited’ for Cavs debut vs. Celtics

12:49 PM ET

BOSTON — Deron Williams will make his debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night at the TD Garden against the Boston Celtics.

“Excited,” Williams said at the Cavs’ morning shootaround in preparation for Celtics, their closest competition in the Eastern Conference standings. “I’m ready to get out there and play with these guys. Got a chance to get familiar with things yesterday in practice and so I’m ready to go tonight.”

Williams, 32, signed with the Cavs on Monday after being waived by the Dallas Mavericks. He will become the team’s primary point guard behind Kyrie Irving, a position Cleveland has struggled to fill since Matthew Dellavedova signed with the Milwaukee Bucks in the offseason.

“He brings a physicality, a shot-blocking presence, a guy who can pass the ball at the 5 position and that’s what we needed,” Lue said of Bogut.

While there was a noticeable joy at Cavs shootaround following their string of acquisitions — not to mention that J.R. Smith was joining the team for his first road trip since fracturing the thumb on his shooting hand in December, indicating his return could be sooner than first imagined — LeBron James was reluctant to compare the current Cleveland team to the team that beat the Golden State Warriors last June.

“We don’t know,” James said. “We can’t say that — 2016 won a championship. For the most part we had some little nicks and bruises but we were whole for the most part last year, so, only time will tell.”

Similarly, Williams wanted to wait before he ranked where the Cavs fit among all his career stops from Utah to Brooklyn to Dallas.

“It’s too early to tell,” Williams said. “Ask me in June.”

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76ers waive Bogut; Lakers waive Calderon

5:10 AM ET

The Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers officially completed buyouts Monday with Jose Calderon and Andrew Bogut, respectively, and both players were released.

League sources told ESPN that Calderon is planning to sign with the Golden State Warriors provided he clears waivers Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET.

Because both Calderon and Bogut were waived before Wednesday, they retain playoff eligibility with their next team.

Also waived Monday were New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings and Brooklyn Nets forward Luis Scola.

Some key figures within the Warriors’ organization preferred Jennings, but the process was already too far along with Calderon.

ESPN’s Chris Haynes contributed to this report.

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