It's here. Mavs Media Day, the warmup to the start of training camp featuring cliche quotes, overkilling optimism, silly staged photographs, artificial warmth between athletes and reporters ... and by gosh, as has been the case for DallasBasketball.com for 13 straight years, we love every overdone, stagey and artificial moment ... and here it comes!
DONUT 1: On the radio at Mavs Media Day ...
The same focus that we provide on the Dallas Mavericks
here at DB.com extends to our coverage of the Mavs on 105.3 The Fan. Listen live here for me and the 105.3 The Fan team broadcasting live from Mavs Media Day starting at 10 a.m. ... Please do so throughout today and every day ... and we'll take you inside the teams in every possible way!
DONUT 2: All Kaman has to do ...
If Chris Kaman is healthy, he's what Dirk calls "the best offensive center I've ever played with'' and he's maybe even more than that. He's a guy who gets you 18/9. Hey, he did it as recently as 2010. It's there for the doing.
It's the "healthy'' part, though, that we need to keep watch on. It'll be among the first issues we discuss with Kaman today, and it'll be a cross-your-fingers lingering question all year long.
If Kaman gets to nine rebounds or so, he'll lead this team. If he's anywhere close to 18 points, he'll be a co-Robin along with O.J. (and maybe Brand, too). But the magic number for any of that to happen in a way that has impact throughout the year is "70'' ... that is, 70 games played.
In Chris' nine NBA seasons, he's been able to stay on the floor for 70-plus just four times. A healthy season for him in Dallas means a huge season for him in Dallas.
DONUT 3: ‘Run through the wall’ ...
"I’ve been here seven years,'' Mavs assistant coach Monte Mathis tells me, "and this is the best (offseason-workout) attendance we’ve had and the earliest attendance we’ve ever had. ... You say ‘Run through the wall’ and they’re to the wall before you finish the sentence.''
Yes, if you are starting to get fired up about Mavs basketball, Coach Mathis is here to help. ...
The son of former NBA referee Mike Mathis was a baseball and basketball star at Cincinnati's Purcell Marian High School) (Monte will probably never be the school's No. 1 jock as Roger Staubach also attended there!) Mathis played at Kansas under Larry Brown before transferring to Toledo, and then bounced back to his other favorite sport, baseball, playing in the minors for the Braves and White Sox.
Monte Mathis begins his seventh season with the Mavs -- and second as "defensive coordinator'' -- and later today we'll have a one-on-one visit with DB.com from inside Mavs HQ.
DONUT 4: Can you upgrade from Kidd? ...
If you are a fan of the intangibles that J-Kidd brought to this team (not to mention the trophy), you find it difficult to imagine that Darren Collison has much of a chance to represent an overall upgrade. That doesn't mean DB.com's Imran Virani can't have some fun with a Video Comparison of Kidd and Collison strengths ...
Here, let's focus on one comparison: a shooting and scoring upgrade. Because that's not difficult to imagine.
DC is a player who is on his fourth team in three years. Further, he's seen his numbers decline each season. And yet his scoring numbers from last year -- 10.4 per -- exceed Kidd's 6.4 per. Kidd wasn't a driver or a finisher; Collison, even at just 6-1 and so slightly-built, is. Kidd was a spot-up shooter who attempted 4.6 treys per game; DC shot 36.2 percent from the arc last year, besting Kidd's 35.4 percent ... but Collison only launched 0.6 shot attempts per game.
It's odd that DC's shooting percentage numbers have dropped in each of his seasons, even as last year he boasted the highest PER of any Pacer in the playoffs, He's a career 46-percent shooter, though, and even last year's 44 percent (again, a drop) would represent Jason Kidd’s second-best shooting season ever.
So we try to steer clear of Collison-Kidd comparisons, and I know Mavs coaches are attempting to do the same. The real challenge with DC -- and the real attainable goal -- is to get him to be the best Darren Collison available. Offensively, for certain, the Mavs get a major boost at point guard if they achieve only that.
DONUT 5: I must be some sort of financial dumbass ...
I must be some sort of financial dumbass because I had no idea the NBA ownership fraternity included this many billionaires.
I expect Tony Cubes to be in attendance today, and after reading this, I also expect him to buy me lunch.
DONUT 6: Scouting inside Donnie's office ...
Yes, they have locker stalls at Dallas Mavericks HQ at the AAC. And yes, DB.com has scouting reports straight from Mavs GM Donnie Nelson's office (excuse the audio' Donnie's office isn't acoustically sound!):
More on the three guys who fill out the camp roster for a club with 15 guaranteed contracts/likely sure bets:
Tu Holloway is a 5-11, 187-pound point guard -- a "waterbug'' type -- with a reputation as a tough guy.
He has penetration skills, is a confident shooter and scorer (at least on the college level) and exhibits leadership qualities ... which, as Donnie notes, might very well be useful once camp ends and Tu is shipped up the road to Frisco.
Josh Akognon is a Nigerian-born speedster with point guard size but shooting guard skills who "can really stroke it,'' GM Donnie Nelson tells me. "He can shoot the lights out.'' In two years in China he's scored 28 points per game, scoring with the same efficiency he did at Cal State Fullerton.
As Donnie notes, if Akognon doesn't make the big club, he'll likely head back to China. But for at least a short time, if nothing else, it'll be fun watching the 5-11 international star with a wide array of offensive skills do his thing.
Mavs fans know D.J. Mbenga, and once camp is over, it seems the Texas Legends fans will get to know him, too. The likeable Mbenga, the 7-1 center who started his career with the Mavs after the club discovered the raw kid playing in Belgium, has spent a decade as a third-string NBA center and was overseas last year.
The presence in camp of The Congo native is largely just his warm-up for a D-League stint.
P.S.: Somebody started a rumor last night that Gilbert Arenas is also Dallas-bound. Two top-of-the-organizational-chart Mavs officials tell me that's completely false.
DONUT 7: Want more Mavs? ...
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DONUT 8: Follow Fish and the Mavs on Twitter ...
Here are your key Twitter follows for the day at Mavs HQ:
Stick with this bunch, and check for updates on DB.com Boards . You'll know everything as it's happening with The 75-Member Staff!
DONUT 9: 12 Mavs Players, 12 Mavs Questions, 12 Mavs Roles ...
Which player carries the greatest burden? Which will be the biggest surprise? Who might be the team's second most-valuable guy? Who has the most to overcome? Who has the most to prove? Those are among the days questions but we think we've already provided the answers: 12 Mavs Players, 12 Mavs Questions, 12 Mavs Roles.
DONUT 10: Why the Yankees are the Yankees ...
Astute Mavs Premium reader "Jwood029'' notes: "If there's a hole in Cuban's CBA theory, this is it: I'm thinking there will be a handful of teams out there like the Lakers who simply say screw it and keep spending like crazy. ... (But) crazy spending doesn't always work out for these teams (i.e. Yankees, New York).''
Indeed, the Lakers are the mouse in Cuban's CBA maze. Combine the natural attraction to players to LA and the Lakers possessing unlimited funds? Well, "crazy spending'' doesn't ALWAYS work, i.e. the Yankees. But the Yankees, for 100 years now, are still the Yankees. They are the "Damn Yankees'' we make movies about, the Goliath to which we always refer, an axis of the sporting world.
It doesn't always work to be the biggest market with the most money. But Yankees history -- from Ruth to DiMaggio to Mantle to Reggie to Jeter -- says it almost always does.
DONUT 11: Dirk's not top-10?! ...
Once upon a time (a year ago), ESPN.com ranked Dirk as the No. 5 best player in the NBA. Now he's No. 11.
What changed? Five new superstars arrive in the league when I wasn't looking? How's Nowitzki not top-10?
Well, he IS. Just not on this list, he's not.
The afterglow of the title run is gone.
The realized basketball talents you'd truly take on your team (for one season, regardless of age, contracts and the like) ahead of Dirk simply do not number 10. LeBron's one. All things considered, Nowitzki is in the conversation with the next group ... at a par with, or a tic below, most any other NBA player you can name.
If somebody thinks "the next group'' includes 10 guys? Fine.
Hey, given the way Bristol usually handles the Mavs, I'm glad they included Dirk in the top 300.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
Bossman Mark Cuban pokes at the Lakers and the Nets for celebrating having "won the summer.'' That's part of Tony Cubes' job as carnival barker, but the truth it, today -- Mavs Media Day -- is all about celebrating winning the summer.
This is the day all the players do one-on-one on-camera interviews with us at FOX Sports Southwest, in which they detail their favorite Christmas presents and their "most memorable moments'' and such ... all taped and used throughout the TV year. This is the day the guys do "liners'' for radio stations that they don't know anything about. You know, "I'm Delonte West and you're listening to 'Salsa Music 89.7 FM!''' Everybody gets photographed, everybody is cooperative, everybody is optimistic, and everybody is feeling like they "won the summer.''
It's a basketball carnival for the media, and for you, the fan, too, when you consume it all. (And believe me, all day and all night, DB.com will give you plenty to consume). Mavs Media Day is a "Winning-The-Summer'' sales pitch, really.
A sales pitch. And as always is the case this time of year ... I'm buying.