• Before this season began, there were rumors that Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban was considering throwing away the season to pursue a top selection in this year’s draft. After losing out on DeAndre Jordan the Mavs were left for dead by pundits and rival front offices, which seemed reasonable given the team’s situation at both point guard and center.  Instead, Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki were able to drag a motley crew of journeymen and also-rans to the 6th spot in the Western Conference.  Hoop Ball’s Post-Mortem series takes a look at what happened in Dallas.

    OVERVIEW

    Early last July the Mavs looked poised to join the Western Conference elite.  During the moratorium period of free agency they secured verbal agreements from Jordan and Wesley Matthews, who the team hoped would join Dirk to form their next contending core.  We all know what happened next, as Jordan’s indecision fueled an emoji war the likes of which the NBA and Twitter had yet to experience, concluding with Jordan returning to the Clippers.

    The Mavs had to change course on the fly, upping their offer to Matthews and sending a second round pick to Milwaukee to acquire Zaza Pachulia.  After Deron Williams was waived by the Nets the Mavs inked him to a two-year deal to round out their starting lineup.  While each move made sense in a vacuum, a team that boasted a recovering Matthews and a handful of NBA afterthoughts as the only reinforcements for an aging Dirk didn’t exactly look like a playoff contender.

    Enter Carlisle, who again reminded us why he should be considered among the absolute upper echelon of NBA coaches.  Despite their rotation being littered with replacement level players the Mavs finished 5th in offensive efficiency, as Dirk turned back the clock and the team bombed away from deep.  Things were shakier on the defensive end, where they finished just 18th, but the Mavs were able to secure a 42-40 record before losing to Oklahoma City in the first round.

    COACHING

    It would be hard to oversell Carlisle at this point.  Along with Dirk he’s been as critical for the Mavs sustained success as anyone, and he continues to perform minor miracles in maximizing the roster.  On a fundamental level, Carlisle’s greatest skill is getting the most out of limited players to generate clean looks.

    It’s easy to criticize the ways in which we wish certain players were more effective, but Carlisle focuses on what NBA abilities a player does bring to the court, regardless of his flaws.  Pachulia offers almost no rim protection, and the Mavs sometimes suffered on defense as a result, but his ability to facilitate the offense from the elbows opened up the floor for Dirk and the rest of the Mavs.

    Similarly, Matthews might not have had the same explosiveness in his first season back from a torn achilles tendon, but Carlisle built plays to free him for clean looks at the basket again and again.  The list goes on and on, and at this point it’s safe to assume that any fantasy asset headed to Dallas will be set up to succeed offensively.

    THE PLAYERS

    Dirk Nowitzki

    ADP: 68/52 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 45/29 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 53/31 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 75

    At 37-years-old Nowitzki is no longer the top-10 player we’d grown accustomed to, but 2015-16 marked another impressive season in which he outperformed his draft value.  After a down (by his standards) year in 2014-15, Drik bounced back as the driving engine behind Dallas’ elite offense.

    His gravity alone unlocks so much for the Mavs, as opposing big men are dragged away from the paint to defend his historic shooting.  Nowitzki might have lost a step or two, but he still baited defenders with viscous pump fakes and herky jerky drives, and finished off possession after possession with his lethal scoring.  He finished the season with averages of 18.4 points, 1.6 threes, 6.4 boards, 1.8 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and just 1.1 turnovers, and his defensive contributions helped to improve his fantasy impact from last season.

    Early rankings are already advocating letting Nowitzki slide outside of the top-80.  His upside might be limited as he enters his age 38 season, but that low a ranking seems like a mistake.  Dirk has finished inside the top-30 for the 16 consecutive seasons, and as long as Carlisle is his coach he should continue to produce as a fantasy starter.

    Chandler Parsons

    ADP: 38/67 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 119/116 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 88/78 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 61

    Parsons made his season debut on November 1, 2015 after spending training camp and the preseason rehabilitating his knee after offseason surgery.  His campaign started slowly, but he flashed his diverse game as the season went on.  At his best Parson’s offers game changing versatility, stuffing the stat sheet in nearly every category.  In those moments he functions beautifully within Carlisle system, spacing the floor for open treys and attacking the rim as a secondary ball handler.

    Unfortunately, those moments have become difficult to count on.  Nagging injuries limited his minutes, resulting in averages of 13.7 points, 1.7 threes, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 0.8 steals.  Across the board he saw his lowest production in four years.  Parson’s campaign was again cut short in 2015-16, as he underwent surgery to address the torn meniscus in his right knee on March 25 and missed the rest of the season.

    If he had stayed healthy one could easily see Parsons justifying an early-round pick next fall, but that “if” looms large.  His growing total of knee injuries is concerning, and he will have to prove he can stay on the court before fantasy owners are comfortable with him again.  I couldn’t blame anyone for gambling on his upside next year, but I’m fine passing on Parsons until he puts together a full season again.

    Wesley Matthews

    ADP: 89/93 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 104/86 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 123/102 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 78

    After posting the best season of his career in 2014-15 Matthews struggled to find his form during his first year with the Mavs.  This result shouldn’t be altogether surprising, as Matthews tore his left achilles tendon late in 14-15 and it isn’t uncommon for players to take 18-24 months to fully recover from such an injury.

    The difference between Matthew’s breakout campaign and this season was basically half a three per game and a sizeable dip in his shooting percentage.  He averaged 12.6 points, 2.4 threes, 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and one steal, but only shot 38.4% from the floor on 11 attempts per game.

    Matthews will be a player to watch over the offseason, as there is reason to hope he regains his old form as he recovers.

    Currently Matthews is being ranked outside the top-100 on several sites, and while that ranking matches his finish from this season he might be worth the gamble in the later rounds of your draft.  It isn’t often that someone taken after the first 100 players are off the board offers the upside Matthews has displayed in the past.

    Deron Williams

    ADP: 109/86 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 106/130 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 82/101 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 65

    It seems like a distant memory now, but as recently as three seasons ago Williams was a consensus top-25 fantasy player.  How times have changed.  He wasn’t able to rehabilitate his value in Dallas, but Williams did settle into the role-player phase of his career.

    On the whole Williams’ value was largely determined by your league type, as he was barely on the standard league radar if you counted turnovers.  Averaging 2.3 turnovers per game isn’t awful, but when a player is only providing low end numbers across the board it can kill what little value remains.

    Williams finished the season averaging 13.7 points, 1.5 threes, 2.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 0.9 steals.  He should hold onto that level of production as long as he’s in Dallas, but keep in mind that he’s also a drain on your field goal percentage, as he averaged just 41.2% from the floor in 2015-16.

    Zaza Pachulia

    ADP: 140/147 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 109/115 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 126/129 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 76

    Pachulia was a solid value in 2015-16, stepping into the Mavs starting center spot in the wake of the DeAndre Jordan fiasco.  As previously mentioned, Pachulia offers little as a rim protector (averaging just 0.3 blocks per game), but chipped in across the board in just 26.1 minutes per game.  He averaged 8.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.8 steals per contest, making him a valuable addition for owners who snagged him in the later rounds of their drafts.

    David Lee

    ADP: 86/102 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 222/218 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 184/180 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 55

    While Lee’s numbers on the season leave a lot to be desired, he reminded owners why he was worth a flier during his time in Dallas.  In 25 games with the Mavs Lee averaged 17.3 minutes, 8.5 points, seven rebounds, 1.2 assists and 0.6 blocks while making an impressive 63.6% of his shots from the floor.  Those totals were enough to keep him on the standard league radar down the stretch, as he ranked 130th on the player rater over the season’s final three months.  Lee is a free agent this summer and his next landing spot will have a dramatic impact on his value for next season.

    Raymond Felton

    ADP: 140 / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 144/153 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 178/192 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 80

    To the surprise of many Felton put together a healthy campaign in 2015-16, providing just enough for fantasy owners to remain ownable in most leagues.  Felton played 27.8 minutes as the Mavs first guard off the bench, and finished the year averaging 9.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.8 threes and 0.9 steals.  His shooting wasn’t great at 41.1%, but his contributions in assists kept Felton in the streaming conversation for much of the season.

    J.J. Barea

    ADP:  N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 169/182 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 190/212 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 74

    Barea showed flashes of solid play but still couldn’t break on to the standard league radar this year.  Averaging 22.7 minutes, 10.7 points, two boards, 4.1 assists and 1.3 treys, he didn’t offer much beyond threes and dimes.  Barrea will continue to be an important part of the Mavs’ rotation next season, but it would take an injury to one of their starters to make him worth considering on draft day next fall.

    Devin Harris

    ADP:  140 / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 212/215 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 215/216 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 64

    Harris, Felton and Barea cannibalized each other this season, and each of them will continue to provide middling returns as long as all three are on the Mavs.  Averaging 20.3 minutes, 7.6 points, 2.2 boards, 0.8 treys, 1.8 assists and 0.9 steals per game, Harris showed some good versatility but he’ll need more playing time in order to be relevant in most fantasy leagues.

    Dwight Powell

    ADP:  N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 241/225 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 287/260 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 69

    While he didn’t see a lot of playing time, Powell showed some promise in his rookie campaign.  He averaged 5.8 points, four rebounds, 0.5 steals and 0.3 blocks in just 14.5 minutes per contest.  As he develops Powell could become a reliable source of defensive stats, so keep an eye on the Mavs rotation early next season.

    Salah Mejri

    ADP:  N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 332/324 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 332/256 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 34

    Mejri offered little to fantasy owners in his first NBA season.  Averaging 12.8 minutes, 3.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks he failed to make an impact in standard leagues.  If you find yourself desperate for blocks next season he might be worth considering, but outside of that he can safely be left on the waiver wire.

    JaVale McGee

    ADP:  N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 339/333 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 309/295 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 34

    McGee returned for 36 games after sitting out the majority of his previous two seasons, and his impact was minimal at best.  Averaging 11.1 minutes, 4.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game he showed off his potential as a rim protector, but at 28-years-old it seems unlikely McGee ever puts it all together.

    DOCTOR’S ORDERS

    Despite earning yet another playoff spot this year, the Mavs will likely be aggressive this offseason.  Between Carlisle’s track record integrating new pieces into his scheme, and the looming pressure of Dirk’s twilight, it seems all but a lock that the team will pursue every angle to improve their roster.  How successful they are in luering a star to Dallas remains to be seen, but as long as the team has Nowitzki and Carlisle they should remain competitive out West.

Fantasy News

  • Jeff Hornacek - Team - Sacramento Kings

    Sam Amick of the Athletic is reporting that former Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek had an interview with the Kings for the lead assistant coach job.

    Sacramento has already hired Luke Walton to be their new coach but the news about the sexual assault allegations he faces might put his status in danger. Walton should be able to assemble his coaching staff once he is out of the woods but we should know more once the NBA concludes with their investigation of the matter.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Luke Walton - Team - Sacramento Kings

    Sam Amico of the Athletic is reporting that Luke Walton still has the Kings' support, despite the sexual assault allegations the newly-hired coach is facing.

    The Kings are working with the NBA to investigate allegations made against Walton by his former colleague at Time Warner Cable, Kelli Tennant. The report adds that the two sides are moving forward with their working relationship and there doesn't appear to be any momentum toward firing Walton, who was hired earlier this month just three days after he parted ways with the Lakers. The Kings confirmed that they were not aware of the accusations until TMZ reported the news and that they will wait for the facts before making a decision on Walton's future. The investigation has been delayed because all parties haven't been able to access Tennant's lawsuit so more information should merge soon.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Jaren Jackson Jr. - F/C - Memphis Grizzlies

    Jaren Jackson Jr. said that he wants to improve his "motor", his ball-handling skills and his shooting mechanics entering year two and he hopes to work with Kevin Garnett over the coming months.

    Jackson and Garnett spent time together last summer and again in February when Garnett visited Memphis to feature Jackson’s game for his segment on TNT. "He has a work ethic that is a throwback that I'm very appreciative of," Garnett said in the segment. "I love working with him. He is the future. I look forward to him becoming the leader of Memphis." The rookie had an impressive season before getting shut down due to a bruised thigh, averaging 13.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.4 blocks, 0.9 steals and 0.9 triples per contest. He has tremendous upside and owners in dynasty leagues should feel great about him.

    Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal

  • Ivan Rabb - F - Memphis Grizzlies

    Ivan Rabb plans to spend much of his offseason in the weight room as he tries to bulk up and show that he has NBA-level defense to pair with his expanding offensive game.

    For all the charm of Rabb's smooth offensive repertoire, he knows his defense needs to improve. It was especially evident in an April 3 loss at Portland when Enes Kanter torched Rabb and the Grizzlies in the post for 21 points and 15 rebounds. Rabb posted almost identical statistics this season to those he posted in 36 games as a rookie, but the second-year post player knocked down 37 percent of his 3-pointers in the G League, showing a comfort level from beyond the arc previously missing from his game. Rabb's deal is non-guaranteed, so the Grizzlies could move on from him if they want but he is only 22 years old and has shown enough potential to likely warrant another season at the relatively low price tag of $1.6 million. Keep him in your radar as he might have an important role next season in what might be a rebuilding year for the Grizzlies.

    Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal

  • Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets

    The Rockets hope that Clint Capela has benefited from two more days of treatment for the virus that has sapped his energy through much of their first-round matchup against the Jazz.

    Since opening the series with 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting, Capela has averaged just 7.3 points on 47.4 percent over the past three games. He was 1-of-6 with seven rebounds on Monday while the Rockets got outscored by 20 points when he was on the floor. "He's trying to battle through it," Mike D'Antoni said. "I think he's been great because he's been able to play. Each day that passes, the virus passes and he'll feel better. Hopefully next game, he's back to almost 100 percent.” The Rockets will try to close out the series on Wednesday night in Houston and they are going to need their starting center to show some signs of life.

    Source: Houston Chronicle

  • Jason Kidd - Team - Los Angeles Lakers

    Bill Plaschke of the LA Times is reporting that the Lakers interviewed Jason Kidd only as a favor to his agent, Jeff Schwartz, who is also the agent for Lakers forward Brandon Ingram.

    Kidd doesn’t really seem to have a chance at the gig and the fact that he lobbied for the job even while Luke Walton held it is a tremendously bad look for the former All-Star guard. Jeannie Buss looks like she has no plans, at least not yet, to support current GM Rob Pelinka with bright, young personnel as he instead is being assisted in this coaching search by Kurt Rambis. The Lakers continue to target Monty Williams, Ty Lue and Juwan Howard and the list doesn’t seem likely to expand.

    Source: LA Times

  • Enes Kanter - C - Trail Blazers

    Enes Kanter suffered a separated left shoulder in the first quarter of Game 5 on Tuesday night, but he received an injection at halftime and gutted his way through despite clearly being pain at times.

    “I just tried to play through it," Kanter said afterward. "We'll see what happens in the future." The Blazers will have at least through Saturday off as they await the winner of the Nuggets-Spurs series. Kanter’s teammates and coaches were impressed with his ability to play with pain but this looks like a serious injury and it remains to be seen if the Turkish big will be forced to miss any time.

    Source: ESPN

  • Damian Lillard - G - Trail Blazers

    Damian Lillard put up an instant classic performance featuring a game-winning deep three, 10 total triples and a 50-spot in Tuesday's 118-115 closeout win over the Thunder in Portland.

    Lillard started off Game 5 with 34 first-half points while playing all 24 minutes. He finished with seven boards, six dimes, three steals and a block while shooting 17-for-33 from the field and 6-for-8 from the line. Despite a big second-half Thunder run, Lillard kept it going all the way until the buzzer as his shot from near the logo fell, giving him an even 50 and a series win as he waved goodbye to the Thunder.

  • CJ McCollum - G - Trail Blazers

    CJ McCollum put up 17 points (8-of-19 FGs), two rebounds, two assists, one triple and two blocks in 32 minutes in Tuesday's closeout win over the Thunder.

    McCollum sat a little more than usual in the first half after getting his third foul early, though he also ended with three fouls in another example of why coaches should just leave players in until they get their fourth or fifth. McCollum had been on fire in this series, averaging over 26 points per game coming into tonight's game. He and the Blazers now wait to see if they'll get the Nuggets or the Spurs in the next round.

  • Enes Kanter - C - Trail Blazers

    Enes Kanter toughed out a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double over 32 minutes in Tuesday's Game 5 victory over the Thunder.

    Kanter also had four assists and a block while shooting 6-for-9 from the floor tonight. He got pretty banged up in the first half, injuring his shoulder which was heavily wrapped after the game. Kanter averaged over 13 points and 10 rebounds in under 30 minutes for the series and he looks like one of the best mid-season signings in the league at this point.