If you are a Dallas Mavericks fan and one to partake in videogames, particularly those simulating a sport (using NBA 2K11 for the purposes of this article), you’ve undoubtedly
had a season or franchise underway when either a minor trade/signing or a much larger move took place. At that point, you are presented with one of
Option #1: You continue on and ignore the change to your game’s roster. It’s not like you were going to find time for Steve Novak or Sasha
Pavlovic on the court anyway, right?
Option #2: You attempt to make a similar trade within the game to match that completed in reality, an option that may require you to turn on
the “Trade Override” option. For those that don’t play, it means just what it sounds like. It gives you the ability to force the computer to accept a
trade it has denied … giving kids everywhere the chance to trade Steve Novak (don’t mean to pick on Steve) for LeBron James.
Option #3: Gripped in the excitement of the roster change, you delete the season you’ve poured hours into and start over in order to include
the new player in every accumulated statistic … in every individual contest.
If the option is number three, how many games, or how much time (a single game generally takes about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the chosen
options), are you willing to throw away?
And for the moment, we’ll disregard the argument over whether all time spent playing videogames is ultimately wasted (as a gamer, I want to say it’s
not … but my wife would disagree (as she just confirmed). I've tried to explain to her that video games are mainstream, fun for all ages ... just check out what our man David Teel is doing at Game Havens! ... she'll come around. Anyway ...
1. Tayshaun Prince
Being the newest name to be added to the list, we’ll start with Prince. Fish and David Lord have already broken down the realities of bringing
Prince to the Mavs here. He’s long, and brings a solid reputation for excelling on the
defensive side of the ball.
Though he’s been in the public consciousness for some time, he is only about two weeks older than Caron Butler.
While his stats this season (14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists) may virtually mirror those of Butler, it would be unfair to label him an
offensive player on par with Caron. He has never averaged more than 14.7 points for a season, or had a PER above his current 16.5, but he can still
defend multiple positions and is capable of hitting an outside shot, as evidenced by his career 37.1 percent shooting from behind the three-point line.
To relate his style of play to something very familiar to Mavs fans, he’s vaguely similar to Shawn Marion with a jumper.
Not a bad thing.
Ranking: Option #2.
I wouldn’t throw away the time already invested, but would quickly pull off a trade and add him to my current roster. Sorry, Mr. Novak, but you knew
what this was.
(That last line should be read in the voice of Peter Griffin.)
2. Devin Harris
If you’ve been a fan of the Mavericks for long, you don’t need much of a refresher on former Mav Devin Harris. You’ll recall his explosive ability
to penetrate and perform admirably as a defender against the league’s quicker guards … skills that fill obvious needs for the current Mavs.
There are also the minor injuries that seem to have plagued his career both in Dallas and New Jersey. Since leaving Dallas, Harris has not totaled
more than 69 games in a season.
He is currently hitting just below his career average of 30 percent from three-point range, while hitting only 43.1 percent of his total field-goal
attempts … percentages that would have us questioning the performance of players like Jason Terry or Butler.
There’s no denying his dynamic quickness can find the cracks in most defenses, only lingering questions over his ability to consistently deploy it
at the appropriate times, or use it to effectively create for those around him.
Yet, if Roddy Beaubois can become the player Harris is, most of us would be ecstatic.
Ranking: Option #3
. This is a tentative ranking, and would likely depend how deep into the season I had progressed. I generally play a shortened season of 28 games (hey,
I have two jobs, a wife and a one-year-old son). So, ten games or less I’d be willing to throw away without hesitation.
There may be extenuating factors that could come into play as well. For example, say I’m finally averaging that triple-double with Dirk … some
meditation time would be needed.
3. Corey Maggette
The fact that there is so much division over adding a player who has a career scoring average of 16.4 and can get to the free-throw line at will,
while having a PER above 18 seven times (18.2 career PER), may tell you quite a bit about Corey Maggette.
He can score, that’s not being ignored, and he gets to the line … he instantly addresses two significant needs.
However, with Maggette comes the baggage of a player who many would say epitomizes a “me first” style of play, placing more importance in his
personal stat line than his team’s winning percentage.
He’s only been to the playoffs once in his career … though much of that must be attributed to playing for one of the most poorly run franchises in
the league for eight seasons, Donald Sterling’s Los Angeles Clippers.
In light of the hopeless teams he’s been a member of comes the debate over what came first. Did his love for personal stats kill his teams? Or, did
the hopeless nature of those teams leave him with nothing more to play for than his stats?
If his time in Milwaukee this season is any indication, a playoff team from a year ago, Scott Skiles is giving him 19 minutes a night and his name
appears to have reached the open market once again.
The 31-year-old Maggette will be owed a little more than $21 million over the next two seasons.
Ranking: Option #2.
Maggette can score, but he likely wouldn’t breach my starters in NBA 2K11, meaning I would simply trade for him immediately upon hearing of any
And, I wouldn’t even bat an eye over adding that $21 million to my virtual payroll, keeping my reputation as an owner willing to disregard the
financial implications of any deal safe among digital players.
4. Gerald Wallace
Wallace is a classic stat-filler, consistently averaging between 16-to-20 points and 7-to-10 rebounds along with around one block and steal per game
in each of the last five seasons.
Not an elite shooter, though his three-point percentage has jumped to 37 percent last season, and currently sits at 34.9, he attacks the paint for
an average of five shots at the rim per game (down from a minimum of seven over the previous four seasons) … a number that would easily lead the Mavs,
where Shawn Marion’s 3.2 tops the roster.
He’s fearless in the paint, and is arguably more athletic than any Dallas player, with Roddy Beaubois posing the only challenge there.
For those wondering, his PER this season is 14.2, but has been no lower than 18.3 the previous five.
Born of his fearlessness is a tendency to collect injuries, having only taken part in over 70 games three times despite playing in his tenth season,
and has already missed 10 contests this year.
Other than the injuries, he’s vaguely reminiscent of a 6-7, uber-athletic, small-forward version of JJ Barea … ok, that doesn’t sound so similar …
but they share an insatiable desire to attack the interior of a defense.
For fantasy participants, he also bears a resemblance to Brian Westbrook; formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles … another supremely talented player
that could frustrate you with a seemingly endless cascade of “questionable” statuses.
There’s also the fact of the $22 million owed to him over the next two seasons, though the final year for $11 million is a player’s option … is that
truly negative for a 28-year-old with his skills?
Ranking: Option #3.
Wallace may be the only guy on this list (until Carmelo Anthony was a late addition) that would yield an instant discarding of any saved progress with
no regard for outside factors. As a player who has danced at the periphery of trade possibilities for several years, thoughts of him joining the Mavs
have been allowed to marinate for some time.
Indeed, if it were halftime in the last game wrapping up a Finals victory when the news came, I’d still exit the game, add Wallace, and begin anew.
5. Stephen Jackson
Stephen Jackson is a player that many feel would be an ideal fit for the current Mavs. Well, other than the Mavs themselves.
He is a streaky scorer, housing the ability to put up 30 points on any given night, but he is also a volume shooter that can take either team, the
opponent or his own, out of a game.
Surprisingly for a player who has averaged over 20 points a game for each of the last three seasons, he has never had a PER above 16.1 … speaking to
his lack of efficiency.
Jackson, unlike anyone other than Devin Harris on this list, does have the advantage of being able to give the team some minutes initiating the
offense … and can do so while playing either shooting guard or small forward.
Turning 33 in April, he is still considered a strong defender that can play with an undeniable tenacity when motivated. Which begs two questions:
One, he’s distanced himself from more than one coach, and has been labeled by some as a malcontent.
Two, he has a contract with two years and $19 million remaining beyond this year.
Ranking: Option #3.
This isn’t as clear-cut as it sounds. Yes, I would back out of my season to begin anew with Jackson in the starting lineup, but there would be a slight
I don’t want another player whose ratings begin to drop because they are unhappy with my virtual rotations … yeah, I’m talking to you Jason Terry.
You may be the perfect team player in reality, but you’ve caused a bit of strife with my NBA 2K11 version of the Mavs.
Still, anytime prior to the second round of the playoffs, I’d erase my season to add Jackson and start again.
6. J.R. Smith
There are going to be people that hate this rating, and those that love it, and very likely very few in between.
It would be Option #1. There would be no roster update.
Maybe it’s lingering resentment from the playoff series against Denver two seasons ago, but he wouldn’t be joining my franchise even if he became a
Mav … at least not without a cooling down period to accept the terms of reality.
Don’t get me wrong. If he donned a Dallas jersey, I would treat him as any other member of the team … but my heart wouldn’t forget
J.R. Smith has the talent to be a top ten player in the NBA. There’s no skill an ideal shooting guard would have that he lacks. He is supremely
athletic. He can nail a three. He can throw down a dunk regardless of who stands between the rim and his intentions. He can score 40 points on a whim.
Hell, he can even be a solid defender when the mood strikes him.
And yet, he’s a bench player who has failed to make a deep impression on a league he’s been a part of for seven years.
Smith brings an immature approach that’s caused George Karl to call him out publicly on multiple occasions, until rumors began to circulate that he
may be available via trade … suddenly, he’s a great team player with a great work ethic.
Rather than trust in that, understand that a team on the brink of having to rebuild has little interest in retaining a 25-year-old with bountiful
talent. This may tell you all you need to know about Smith.
He’s a threat to locker room harmony, and for all the potential he brings to the court, he carries an equal weight of risk. His saving grace is the
fact that his deal expires after this year, offering a quick way out should things go awry.
Ranking: Option #1.
This may be based on a lingering bias, but he wouldn’t have the chance to corrupt my 2K11 roster, or the PS3 housing it. You invite him in, and the
next thing you know you can’t watch Blu-ray movies anymore and your system is refusing to play other games.
It’s just not worth the risk.
7. Troy Murphy
Troy Murphy has slipped beneath the radar of most as he sits on the New Jersey bench, unable to crack Avery Johnson’s rotation.
Prior to that, Murphy had become a reliable three-point shooter (hitting 39.1 percent for his career) and a sturdy rebounder, though he is known as
a poor defender.
At 6-11, he would be another power forward capable of stretching the defense.
He’ll turn 31 before the playoffs begin, and has a contract that expires after this season.
Ranking: Option #2.
In the right situation, he could bring scoring from the bench and provide solid minutes as a backup. He’d likely be a temporary fix incapable of making
a huge impact, which may be less than ideal for a guy earning $12 million this season. Considering the luxury tax hit, he may not be worth the cost.
Hopefully, my 2K11 league won’t read that comment … my reputation as a free spender could be lost in an instant.
8. Carmelo Anthony
“I’m instructing our team to walk away from the deal.” Mikhail Prokhorov spoke Wednesday, and in that moment Carmelo Anthony became a late addition
to this list.
In this space, we’ve chased, and will continue to run down, every vein of this story as it relates to the Dallas Mavericks.
If the Nets are truly out of the picture, ‘Melo may have gone from pure fantasy to a mix of fantasy and long-shot hopes … but hope nonetheless.
With Anthony, there are negatives, such as his apathetic at times defense. And, you can dig through the advanced statistics to find a player that
may not statistically belong among the truly elite; or you can watch him play.
No player in the league gets to the rim with a higher level of regularity (as of Thursday morning, Anthony is tied with Dwyane Wade and Zach Randolph at 6.8 attempts per game at the rim, which leads the league), and is a brand of player Dirk Nowitzki has never shared a uniform with in the
Much as Dirk is a “game changer,” Carmelo treads the same territory. If he can be had, the Mavs are obligated to pursue.
Ranking: Option #3.
Was there really a chance for any other choice?
To clarify, if this addition took place in the middle of a work day, I may find that I am suddenly “sick,” (if it took vomiting on the floor to
convince coworkers … well, then I would feel bad for whoever had to clean up the mess … as I walked out the door) rush home, discard any previously
saved seasons, add Anthony and get the first game loading as my wife and son stared on, unacknowledged, wondering, “What’s wrong with daddy?”
Ok, I’d probably excitedly greet them both first, but I’d be close to doing a second grader’s “pee-pee dance” as I did my best to contain any urge
to flip on our PS3 as we talked.
Finally, you may be asking why Andre Iguodala isn’t included on this list. Know that if he were, he’d easily be categorized under Option #3, and
would be added instantly amid a fog of excitement. However, unless circumstances change, he may not be a viable option.
Now, we only need to devise a way to allow the laws of videogame basketball to apply in reality. Wouldn’t it be great to see what Mark Cuban and
Donnie Nelson could get done if they were able to override opposing general manager’s decisions, as well as overruling the CBA salary guidelines?
“I’m sorry Mr. Presti, but it appears that you will be accepting Sasha Pavlovic in return for Kevin Durant (see, we didn’t close picking on Novak)
… oh, and while we’re talking, you may as well throw in Russell Westbrook for a future second round pick, top 50 protected, of course.”