There are a couple of things that could scare any die-hard Mavericks fans this 2014 season, but by far the biggest is the health of Dirk Nowitzki.
The potential fall-out should Dirk take a tumble, is crippling for the team. The prized German future Hall of Fame legend is 35 (and a half), trudging through season number 16 (and a half), having just had knee surgery in 2012 and is still being forced to carry more of a load than preferred by everyone in the organization that aimed for putting him alongside a superstar. That superstar is yet to emerge.
At 7 feet tall it’s a long way to fall and fortunately it doesn’t happen often. Dirk has adjusted his game to limit such possible occurrences but unfortunately there are no guarantees. Basketball can be a physical game, and falling is inevitable. What makes it incredibly nerve racking for fans is that, despite the additions this off-season, the Mavericks are still relying too much on Nowitzki – way too much.
But this isn’t an article about solely about the eventuality and manner in which Dirk falls. The only consistent fall we want to see from him is the deadly fall-away one-footer that still leaves evenhome announcers speechless.
Last year in lost season 2 of 2, Dirk didn’t make his debut until December 23rd. Frustratingly, he struggled until about February in what were very painful games for Dirk’s body and fans’ eyes.
Trying to ease his way back with a crap-carousel at point guard and O.J. Mayo serving as the team’s best non-Dirk option, is similar to putting
Tony Romo an unnamed all-pro Quarterback who plays in the Lonestar State but not for Houston, behind a terrible offensive line and being surprised when he can’t meet expectations.
The best moments in the illustrious career of “dat dood” Dirk have come when he had someone with an IQ over the current temperature in Minnesota to pass him the damn ball. A simple concept that one of the best franchises in sports strayed away from to pursue other goals that didn’t pan out.
This year the Mavericks finally acquired a true point guard to take pressure off an aging superstar who can now get open much more easily. Again, simple concept. The trouble is Jose Calderon can’t play 48 minutes of defense, and the Mavericks biggest hole this year, BY FAR, has been backup point guard.
By default, rookies Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel have been playing the minutes when Calderon rests. It hurts to say, but it makes you miss Mike James a little, though not Derek Fisher (even Gal Mekel’s slow-motion maneuvers into the paint don’t make you miss that guy).
Larkin and Mekel were expected to be stopgaps in 2013 while Devin Harris rehabbed from a toe injury with an estimated return to the lineup around Christmas.
It’s January 9th and Devin Harris remains without a return date. Reports as late as January 3rd indicate that Harris “hopes to take part” in his first practice of the season by January 14th. Tick tock, tick tock…
The Mavericks are way, way too vulnerable at backup point guard. While Mavs fans put their faith in the training staff headed by Casey Smith, most are hoping for a ‘sooner the better’ scenario because Dallas is barely hanging onto a playoff spot as of today. This team has the potential to improve upon his return, but unfortunately it feels like as if fans are starting to put a lot of stock in the impending return of the former Mav.
With this team recently losing four in a row at home and getting absolutely dismantled on national television in San Antonio, the amount of pressure on the backup point seems warranted.
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