From Distance: Dallas Joins the EU

four point play….

1. The NBA has given me much to be happy about over the last week. The Cavs have played passable ball on both ends of the floor winning the last two, Cedi Osman has finally connected his brain to his skill-set for an extended period of time, Matthew Dellavedova was mic’ed up (that’s all I have on that, that’s just fun), and the New York Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks making Luka and Kristaps teammates for the foreseeable future.

The prospect of watching Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis play together is beyond entertaining. The 7’3″ Latvian was already one of the most entertaining players in his own right. His stretch big offensive game combined with some crazy blocks and putbacks made Porzingis one of the most fascinating players in the NBA. Add my man Luka Doncic to the equation and Rick Carlisle is right in recalling the Dirk Nowitzki/Steve Nash pairing of years ago.

It is almost as though Mark Cuban got a do-over with the previous decision on whether or not to max-out Steve Nash. Had Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki played their whole primes together, we might have had a very different championship picture from the mid 2000s on.

Nash and Nowitzki were really good together. It is easy to forget that Nash made two All-Star games with the Mavericks before he went to the Suns. True, he wasn’t an MVP candidate before he returned to Phoenix, but it wasn’t as though Nash was an average player that only exploded after joining Mike D’antoni’s squad. Nash was already great. It was mostly a health question.

Had Dallas been satisfied with Nash’s long-term health prospects, they would have offered a larger contract. I am pretty confident that a healthy prime Nash combined with Dirk’s brilliance could have given Dallas a couple more titles.

Fast forward to 2019 and we have a somewhat similar situation. Kristaps Porzingis was probably a top-five untradable player before he hurt his ACL last season. Kristaps’s immense offensive potential as a shooter and Pick and Roll guy has never really been in doubt. What Kristaps added last season was a more consistent post game. When I first wrote about Porzingis almost five years ago, I said it was hard to get a gage on how good he can be until he goes through puberty.

Well, the boy became a man. Porzingis has gotten much stronger over the last few seasons and it is allowed him to use his incredible skill-set closer to the basket. Last season, guys couldn’t move Porzingis off his spot like they could before.

2. Of course, it remains to be seen how well he will respond to NBA basketball post-ACL reconstruction. Many people are rightfully concerned that a 7’3″ human could have a hard time regaining enough athleticism to play in the NBA after such a difficult injury.

The thing is, even if Porzingis were to only get back to 90% of his previous athletic agility, his height, skill-set, and increased strength should still allow him to be a dominant force. If the Unicorn goes from a 7’3″ man who runs like a fast wing to a 7’3″ man who is still quick enough to play a stretch Center, that will be just fine. He will still be 7’3″ with a great shot.

The only real hole that Porzingis displayed last season was his underwhelming play-making. Kristaps wasn’t particularly interested in creating for others, even though he has displayed a talent and ability to do so.

With Dallas, Porzingis will gain a completely different understanding of how to move the rock. Coach Carlisle is a genius at combining great Pick and Roll ball-dominance with off-ball action for assist creating possibilities.

It is why all of the J.J. Berea bench units have been so successful over the last few seasons. Carlisle allows a point guard to control the action completely if the point guard knows what he is doing. What is different from Carlisle’s system and a lot of other ball-dominant systems is nobody relaxes off-ball for the Dallas Mavericks.

There are constantly looking for back-door opportunities, off-ball screens, double-screens into a PnR that give a great ball-handler like Barea, and now Doncic a chance to serve whatever poison the defense wants to pick.

For Dirk, all those off-ball actions were still in play, with the main ball-dominance starting at the elbow.

Porzingis’s game is really a balance between Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki. There is a lot more Durant in Kristaps offensive production than many people might recognise. If post-ACL surgery, Porzingis needs to stick more toward the Nowitzki side of things, he still can be dominate from the nail.

There couldn’t be a better place for him to maximize his skills than in Dallas. Carlisle and Dirk can tell Porzingis every action and reaction from every spot on the floor in that offense. Off-ball movement will make it easier for him to create for others. And more than anything, Porzingis will have the ultimate PnR partner in Luka Doncic.

What a stroke of luck for NBA fans that Porzingis will be in a position to truly maximize his talents. Luka was going to be amazing regardless, but this trade might have changed Porzingis’s future from multiple All-Star to first class Hall-of-Famer.

3. I’m very happy to see that Cedi Osman will be participating in All-Star weekend. Before the last few games, Osman’s inclusion would have seemed a little bit on name alone. Enough people knew that Osman worked out with the best small forwards in the world over the summer. Being included in that picture allotted Cedi a little more face time than he might have otherwise received.

That being said, Osman certainly has the talent to participate in any All-Star festivity when his head is completely locked in. This season, Cedi has proven to be more of a confidence player than I initially understood him to be.

I don’t know enough about the inner workings of the Cavs’ locker room to know whether Osman needs to be more hyped thus leading to better play, or toned down for him to succeed.

From the outside looking in, it strikes me that Cedi needs people to tell them to shoot and play with confidence. That he is the man. Of course, that might be a very different message that people like Austin Carr are probably giving him in random hallways throughout the league.

I would much rather Cedi go to 4-20, than 4-8 in any particular game. He is probably the Cavaliers’ most talented player. That is both an indication of the lack of talent on the Cavs, but also a sign of his rather high ceiling. Osman needs to play with that mindset. Hopefully his trip to All-Star week will embolden him, and he can begin to produce on a regular basis like he has over the last week.

4. Anthony Davis will leave the Pelicans. Shocking. I don’t feel like talking about the Lakers, but I do think it is important to bring up a new reality. Superstars don’t stay for their third contract.

With that in mind, it seems the only sensible thing to do is draft well during their young years, never trade any first rounder in order to “get the young superstar playoff experience”, and patiently “waste” a couple years of their early prime in order to construct a roster so strong that he is competing for championships by the end of that second contract.

Basically, PUNT on the first four years of any superstar’s career in order to make sure that years four through eight are championship caliber good. Making the playoffs shouldn’t be the early goal. It’s hard to walk away from a championship level squad. It is really easy to leave a team with a roster like the Pels have.

 

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NOMAD
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NOMAD
16 days 15 hours ago

APPEARS THAT ALL / MOST OF THE TEAMS NOT CONTENDING / CHANCE TO GO FAR IN PLAYOFFS ARE OFFERING ALL THEIR MPLAYERS (EXCEPT THEIR STARS ) ——IF THAT IS THE CASE HOOD / BURKS MIGHT NOT BE THAT APPEALING / GET MOVED AT TRADE DEADLINE OR WORSE YET THEY GET MOVED FOR BASICALLY NOTHING IN RETURN

NOMAD
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NOMAD
16 days 15 hours ago

THANKS GREEK FAN (EVEN THOUGH BAD NEWS )—DO YOU KNOW HIS AGE / WHAT KIND OF STATS HE WAS PUTTING UP THIS YEAR–JUST CURIOUS /————-AGREE WITH EVERYTHING JOHN B POSTED EARLIER —-“THE TAIL WAGGING THE DOG ” NBA LEAGUE IS GETTING TO BE TOTAL TURN OFF FOR ME

GreekCavsFan
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GreekCavsFan
16 days 20 hours ago

There were some bad news for the Cavs yesterday. Arturas Gudaitis of Armani Milan, whose rights the Cavs have, probably tore his ACL yesterday. He is a Lithuanian center, who was tearing it up this season in the Euroleague and the other day he was talking about playing for the Cavs next season. Bad for the kid.

MikeO
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MikeO
16 days 20 hours ago

Thanks for the news, even if it’s bad.

Scotch
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Scotch
16 days 23 hours ago

Denver is sneaky deep. They could give any team a run for their money this year…including the fully healthy warriors. They have the length and they have the bench.

Scotch
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Scotch
16 days 23 hours ago

Anyone else watching the rockets vs mavs? LeBron would average 35-15-15 on a Dantoni led team. Actually…might be more like 30-18-15. But still. Canton gave Nash 2 MVP awards…he is giving Harden a couple…he would have LeBron in GOAT status by season 2. Harden is light years better than Nadh due to size and athleticism alone…he is a worse passer…but can you imagine unleashing LeBron on that team? That would be epic.

Scotch
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Scotch
16 days 23 hours ago

Lol nuggets not Mavs…have Nash on the mind

John B
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John B
17 days 25 minutes ago

Let’s have a ten city league where these dudes want to play and where no one can complain. NYC (2 teams), Miami (2 teams), LA (2 teams), Chicago, Houston, San Fran, and Vegas. Should please everyone. No more unfulfilled contracts. No more bitching and moaning about getting paid millions for literally the least useful/beneficial profession per dollars paid to contribution to the human species (to humanity as a whole) in the entire world, entertainment. Do something else.

Scotch
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Scotch
16 days 23 hours ago

Lol…you want a professional sports league where players dont complain? Why does this help in any way? It just drastically reduces the available tv deals, drastically reduces the value of the league, and thus lowering contracts. I know you are probably being semi-sarcastic but still…small markets are necessary for yhe large markets to means anything.

John B
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John B
16 days 10 hours ago

Yeah I was. Just venting. Mostly just frustrated last night and a little tipsy. Probably years of NE Ohio sports inferiority complex coming out.

John B
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John B
16 days 23 hours ago

Sorry yall. Just don’t see how this is sustainable for certain markets.

Jason
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Jason
17 days 53 minutes ago
MikeO
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MikeO
16 days 22 hours ago

Ainge finally may pay a price for his mercenary habits. Karma.

John B
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John B
17 days 41 minutes ago

Kyrie, Kawhi, AD. You can’t throw player treatment back in the face of league players run the league as far as the CBA. Or maybe everyone but the top 15 players in the league should stand up to the guys reaping the benefits of the players union negotiations and say hey, you guys are benefiting, but all the mid level contracts have gone away. Maybe have guys other than the top earners/tier one stars as the players union reps. Last CBA screwed the journeymen more than the stars. Some gonzo bs.

Jason
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Jason
17 days 35 minutes ago

Sure you can. Boston had to fire all their doctors for screwing IT up by misdiagnosing his hip & telling him to keep playing. Which he did, magnificently.

THEN they traded hum..

John B
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John B
17 days 23 minutes ago

As rumors say. Who freaking knows what to buy? It all seems like spin. From every agent and every FO. Woj is kneeling before everyone he can to get some scoop that probably isn’t even true.

John B
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John B
17 days 35 minutes ago

Or just contract the league to the cities guys want to play in and get rid of 230 players. Sounds like fun for the top guys. But in this day in age, 10 all stars would probably team up because everyone is buddy buddy and there is no alpha male I want to beat you more than team up with you any more. Take the easy route. Don’t prove you are the guy. Blah. Or in the case of Kyrie, try to prove you are the guy and then get tired of the difficulty and go the easy path.

John B
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John B
17 days 40 minutes ago

when players run the league as far as the cba.

Jason
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Jason
17 days 5 hours ago

Well, with the AD trade demand, the KP trade, speculation about KI & KD to NY, the Grizz making Conley & Gasol available, and even Melo getting waived, no one is talking about Burks/Hood getting moved.

Scotch
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Scotch
17 days 1 hour ago

They could act as facilitators in 3 team deals

MikeO
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MikeO
17 days 5 hours ago

Nate Smith
Admin
17 days 8 hours ago

Jason
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Jason
17 days 7 hours ago

I hope he and KD bith go to NY and never win anything.

John B
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John B
17 days 7 hours ago

Can’t he get more money from Boston? Only way I could see it maximizing his situation is if he suspects or knows KD or Kawhi is headed there.

NOMAD
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NOMAD
17 days 8 hours ago

I SEE MORE “WORDS OF WISDOM ” FROM KYRIE : (

MikeO
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MikeO
17 days 9 hours ago

Melo waived by the Bulls. Go git ‘em, Magic!

Jason
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Jason
17 days 9 hours ago

Gotta make tge AD trade first. Then hire JKidd.

MikeO
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MikeO
17 days 11 hours ago

LOL…Kyrie hedging now on resigning (“ask me July 1st”)…who woulda thunk it. Bet Billy Simmons is panic texting nonstop.

John B
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John B
17 days 11 hours ago

I don’t get this. Why would he be hedging? Presumably Boston trades Tatum, Brown , filler, and one of their firsts for AD or Tatum filler, and two or three of their first round picks this year. Those would be the trump card trades they could offer NO. Leaving Ky to play with AD.

Wouldn’t he want that?

Jason
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Jason
17 days 10 hours ago

This is a dude who bailed on a LBJ led team that had one title (and likely two if healthy) and three straight finals trips.

And thinks the earth is flat.

There are multiple correct answers here.

The fact that all of them make life more difficult for Boston makes me happy.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
17 days 9 hours ago

Ha true.

Christopher
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Christopher
17 days 11 hours ago

Could one describe Kyrie as mercurial? If so, spending energy on guessing why he feels anything would be wasted time. It’s times like these that remind us how rare a superstar Tim Duncan was–a guy who didn’t constantly need to reassess his value in the league’s or his own eyes…

Also remember, this is a guy who just recently found out what it is like to have high expectations for his surrounding teammates. If he really reached out, apologized to, and listened to LeBron, he may have been tutored in how to negotiate with an organization… hence, the change from rafters to waiting… sounds quite LeBron, no?

John B
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John B
17 days 11 hours ago

I am just confused on where he was leaning. I thought he was intent on resigning. Then maybe interested in LA. Then back on the Boston bandwagon. I haven’t followed the rumors.

MikeO
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MikeO
17 days 11 hours ago

As he’s stated in the past, “I want to see my jersey hanging up there”. (in MSG)

John B
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John B
17 days 11 hours ago

I mean ok if KD actually leaves and goes to NY and the knicks get Zion or Barrett, I could see him going to the knicks. Otherwise, leaving Boston would be crazy if they had a chance to get AD while only giving up Tatum and a couple of their treasure trove of first rounders this year. If you keep Brown, you are essentially replacing Tatum and some filler at the end of the bench with AD. Enough to win the east for years to come.

MikeO
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MikeO
17 days 10 hours ago

Windhorst said yesterday that AD thinks Kyrie won’t be in Boston after this year.

John B
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John B
17 days 10 hours ago

Well I hope he lands in NY by himself. I mean the guy appears to be averse to going to winning situations, unless of course he knows something about KD’s future that no one else does.

Who knows, maybe they both told NY and each other they were teaming up. If that is true and NY pulls Zion (which I think they will because it has been so long since they had a number 1) then the knicks made one of the best trades of all time considering they also got two first rounders from Dallas.

John B
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John B
17 days 10 hours ago

Averse to staying in winning situations

Jason
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Jason
17 days 12 hours ago

Good stuff Ben. My reaction to Luka/KP is the same as yours. If healthy, lookout.

Carlisle is a top tier coach. And while Hardaway Jr (NY) & Barnes (Dal) were miscast as leading men, in roles as #3-#4 they will be more efficient.

Throw in some still competent vets (Barea, Lee, Harris) and youngsters (Kleber, Powell) and Carlise can always conjure a productive second unit.

Things get really interesting if the Mavs get some lotto luck and keep their pick this year.

John B
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John B
17 days 12 hours ago

Other weakness, like Dirk is that he isn’t a good rebounder, though he does spend a lot of time on the perimeter. If he is healthy he is worth it because of his d. I worry about an ACL injury for a guy that young and big though. Part of what makes him a unicorn, more so than even Dirk (relative to today’s game with every big seemingly shooting threes) is his mobility and athleticism for a guy that size.

He loses that athleticism and he won’t be as much of a unicorn going forward.

Jason
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Jason
17 days 12 hours ago

One thing to remember: KD, Kyrie, Kawhi, and LeBron all chose to leave close to championship level squads. LeBron twice. And KD/Kyrie/Kawhi may do it again this year.

Yes, NO/NY were terrible and I do not blame AD/KP for wanting out. But the Thunder, Cavs, Spurs, Celtics, and Dubs are/were all tittle/finals/cobf finals good, and their stars bolted anyway.

John B
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John B
17 days 12 hours ago

Some of those are attributable to weird dudes. What dub star bolted? None yet. I think most of big star player movement is due to the warriors effect. They realize they can’t win against that team so they might as well go somewhere else to build a super team or pursue other objectives.

John B
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John B
17 days 12 hours ago

KD bolting would be bizarre. He only has two rings, but has the best chance of any of those guys to get four to five.

Nate Smith
Admin
17 days 12 hours ago

Completely disagree. KD leaves, GS still is best team for the next three years.

John B
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John B
17 days 11 hours ago

I mean yes they are. My point, which maybe wasn’t clear, is that if he stayed he is almost guaranteed another two to three rings barring injuries, so why would he go? There isn’t a team like the 2016 cavs right now. Maybe Houston if Paul can stay healthy/they get someone else. But I am always doubtful on Paul holding up.

Nate Smith
Admin
17 days 8 hours ago

Misunderstood. Good point.

NOMAD
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NOMAD
17 days 13 hours ago

WAS THINKING THE SAME ABOUT BEN/ HAD TO SUPER PUMPED WHEN HE HEARD ABOUT THE TRADE —-IF UNICORN CAN STAY HEALTHY MAVS WON THIS TRADE HANDS DOWN————-WATCHED DUBS / 76ER’S GAME LAST NIGHT—–BOOGIE LOOKED FAR FROM BEING IN GAME SHAPE/ FORM / ETC —-WAS TENTATIVE ON HIS OFFENSVE MOVES —-TIME WILL TELL —————–AGREE WITH CEDI– ( AND ALL THE YOUNG PLAYERS) —ESPECIALLY YOUNG BULL ) CAVS HAVE GOT TO “NAIL ” IT ON THEIR NEXT COACH / ENTIRE COACHING STAFF

John B
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John B
17 days 12 hours ago

Hope lakers fire Walton. I would snatch him up in a second.

John B
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John B
17 days 12 hours ago

DMC has had some good games, but is averaging 4.2 fouls in 22mpg. Defensively is always where I wondered how he would fit in to that team. Never been a shot blocker and as a true big, he is slow as molasses. Didn’t watch last night, but Embiid had a poor game shooting wise. Warriors have a 7 footer who can’t be moved off the block against other true bigs. Still lost though, but Klay was out so it doesn’t mean much.

I think good teams with great small ball lineups could probably play him off the floor in the playoffs if they wanted to. Slow developing post ups in today’s game don’t equal penetration against slow moving true bigs forced to guard the perimeter or get back in transition.

Nate Smith
Admin
17 days 13 hours ago

And we agree on Cedi being a confidence player. With a good coaching staff, he can be off the charts. We saw what he can do guarding wings instead of fours at the end of the Wizards game (a game that should get Brooks fired) but the stint at four will help him long term. Super stoked to see him be a great offensive And defensive player. And thank God they’ve moved him back on Ball in p/r and buried Sexton in the corner. Sexton’s best offensive role is probably in the deep corner like four feet off the court.

Nate Smith
Admin
17 days 13 hours ago

Am I going to have to spin up MavsTheBlog just for you? Seriously, I was really looking forward to your reaction to this. Should be super fun to watch them. Great stuff!

MikeO
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MikeO
17 days 15 hours ago

Good stuff, Ben, I knew you’d be excited about the Zingis/ Doncic pairing. I hope Zingis can come back close to 100%, and just as importantly, stay healthy for a while.

Sounds like the Pels want nothing to do with the Laker ‘prospects’ (I wouldn’t either)…at this point, I expect that saga to go into the summer.

Nice to see Cedi playing well recently. It will be pretty nice if he finishes the season on a high note.

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