At the break, have Mavs made the grade?
February, 15, 2011
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
At 38-16 with two games remaining until the All-Star break, the Dallas Mavericks have surpassed expectations. Sure, around here 50-win seasons come and go like pickups on I-35, but, hey, they have to play the regular season to get to the postseason.
The overall success of this Mavs team through some trying times, combined with a Western Conference that appears far more up for grabs than in the last few years, lends legitimate optimism for when April rolls around.
Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler have been the obvious standouts, but don't discount Shawn Marion's role in making this whole thing work.
So, at the break, we've graded each Mavs player. Admittedly, the grades are overwhelmingly high, with one glaring exception. It just seemed hard to nitpick a team boasting two double-digit win streaks and that managed to rebound from an awful stretch after losing its star and third-leading scorer in a matter of days.
Dallas is currently No. 2 in the West and the question can't helped but to be asked: Where would the Mavs be had Nowitzki not gone down for nine games with a sprained right knee (not to mention Caron Butler's season-ending knee injury)? The Mavs went 2-7 without their leading scorer. Had he stayed healthy, is it too much to think the Mavs go 7-2 during that stretch instead, and are right on the San Antonio Spurs' (46-9) heels for West supremacy?
At any rate, how would you grade the Mavs?