Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Mavericks [Print without images]

Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Steals don't necessarily mean solid 'D'

By Jeff Caplan

The Dallas Mavericks rank third in the NBA in steals, averaging 10.2 a game -- just about one fewer a game than both the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies.

But Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, who has continually harped on the need for Dallas' defense to get better, said steals can be a deceptive stat.

"There are some teams that are really good steals teams that aren’t necessarily really good defensive teams," Carlisle said. "If you’re stealing the ball, if you’re doing it because you’re solid and you’re putting yourself in position to be aggressive, that’s one thing. If you’re just out there willy-nilly trying to steal everything and turning a lot of the misses into chain-reactions defensively, you’re going to be in trouble."

Carlisle's point bears out in the stats. None of the top five steals teams -- Denver, Memphis, Dallas, Miami and New York -- rank in the top 16 in scoring defense. Only Miami ranks in the top 10 in defensive field-goal percentage. For years, the Golden State Warriors were a terrific steals team, but not exactly a great defensive team.

The Mavs rank 19th in the league in scoring defense, allowing an average of 95.4 points a game as scoring is down around the league, most likely a result of shortened training camps caused by the lockout. Dallas ranks 23rd in defensive field-goal percentage at 45.3 percent, a number that dropped drastically since the Mavs opened the season allowing better than 50 percent shooting.

As for those steals, Dallas has four players ranked in the top 50. Jason Kidd is ninth in the league with 15, Delonte West ranks 23rd with 13, Jason Terry is 29th with 12 and Rodrigue Beaubois in his limited time is 49th with 10 steals.

However, Carlisle recently spotlighted Beaubois as an example of the coach's biggest complaint concerning steals -- gambling while not adhering to the foundation Carlisle demands.

"We need to be a solid team. In situations where we can get aggressive and get deflections and steal the ball and get in transition, I love it and I encourage it," Carlisle said. "But, it’s got to be from a basis of a solid foundation defensively."

Carlisle was asked if he believes the team's high number of steals have come from that solid foundation.

"We’re not as consistent as we need to be. We’re going to keep working on it," Carlisle said. "I think that’s the simplest way to answer that question."