TrueHoop: DeShawn Stevenson

The book on Rick Carlisle

January, 18, 2013
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
Rick Carlisle
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty ImagesRick Carlisle: The pragmatist

Name: Rick Carlisle

Birthdate: October 27, 1959

Is he an emotional leader or a tactician?
A tactician. Carlisle inspires his team and staff with his deep knowledge of the game, not an emotional appeal. They know he’s passionate about winning and losing, but that’s conveyed through his intelligence and command, not huddle histrionics or heartfelt one-on-ones with players or coaches. Those who’ve worked with him, as well as colleagues around the league, marvel at Carlisle’s ability to manage the last five minutes of a basketball game.

Is he intense or a go along-get along type?
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the NBA who would characterize Carlisle as lighthearted. He’s very intense, but he also knows how to corral that sharpness and doesn’t coach angry.

Does he rely on systems, or does he coach ad hoc to his personnel?
Give Carlisle the pieces, and he’ll find something that works. In Detroit and Indiana, Carlisle’s teams were defined by their defense and were all about controlling the possession on offense. He succeeded with both Stackhouse-Atkins and Billups-Hamilton backcourts in Detroit, all four guards decidedly different in styles and strengths. In Indiana, Jermaine O’Neal got the ball on the left block, and Reggie Miller curled off single-singles, stacks and staggered screens. In Dallas, Carlisle went away from play-calling in favor of something that relied on more general principles -- and the instincts of Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki to put those principles into action. To the extent that there’s a commonality over the course of Carlisle's career, it’s “Find the right shot at the right time for the right guy.”

Does he share decision-making with star players, or is he the Decider?
Carlisle is the Decider, but he’s exceptionally good at giving his key players the sense that they own a piece of the enterprise. He takes in a lot of information -- from assistants, star players, owners, numbers guys and trainers -- and that knowledge will often guide his decisions. For instance, things weren’t so rosy in fall 2008 when the Mavericks came out of the gate 2-7. Kidd didn’t want every set being commandeered from the sideline and was pining for more freedom. Carlisle went into the lab with his staff, came up with the "push" offense, which gave Kidd the flexibility he needed, but still generated the right shot at the right time for the right guy. That often amounted to an early jump shot for Nowitzki in a prime spot.

Does he prefer the explosive scorer or the lockdown defender?
Carlisle has always appreciated who’s helping his team on the defensive end of the floor and feels confident he can find good shots for just about anyone -- even a defensive specialist like DeShawn Stevenson. In Indiana, Carlisle found plenty of minutes for Fred Jones, and in Dallas there has almost always been a Corey Brewer, James Singleton or Quinton Ross within close reach if needed for defensive duty. All that said, neither Corliss Williamson nor Jason Terry ever had to worry about losing minutes under Carlisle, who can recognize a well-tuned microwave when he sees one.

Does he prefer a set rotation, or is he more likely to use his personnel situationally?
Carlisle has no problem mixing things up when he identifies an opportunity. When his Pacers team needed to unclog the half court against the Pistons in a grueling conference final in 2004, Carlisle had Austin Croshere make his first start in two seasons to help the spacing. When his Mavericks team needed someone to attack the Heat’s defense off the dribble in the 2011 Finals, Carlisle inserted J.J. Barea into the starting lineup for the final three games of the series en route to an NBA championship. Throughout his tenure in Dallas, if a player has cracked the code in a regular-season game -- say Brandon Bass in a pick-and-roll with Barea -- Carlisle will gladly leave him out there to exploit an opponent’s defensive vulnerability.

Will he trust young players in big spots, or is he more inclined to use his veterans?
Again, Carlisle isn’t prone to personal bias. He wants the guy out there who can help him the most. The situation will dictate the personnel, regardless of a factor like age. In Indiana, the core apart from 38-year-old Reggie Miller was very young, and nobody used more possessions for him during his last season in Detroit than 24-year-old Rip Hamilton. Yet Dallas has largely been a veteran’s shop under Carlisle.

Are there any unique strategies that he particularly likes?
Carlisle might never fashion a trend in the NBA, but he’ll take a current one and perfect it.

The push offense isn’t so much an offensive system as it is solution to a problem. The 2008-09 Mavericks roster featured few players who could break a defense down with penetration and nobody who could be classified as a low-post threat. What Dallas had in spades were one- and two-dribble jump shooters and guys with astronomical basketball I.Q.s and other discernible skills like picking, diving and cutting. So Carlisle, with the aid of then-assistant coach Terry Stotts, devised a strategy to empower the team to find early high-percentage looks against an imbalanced defense.

As a general tactic, this wasn’t new -- several teams had abandoned structure for freedom, Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix squads the best example. But unlike D’Antoni, Carlisle didn’t have a prober like Steve Nash, nor was his group in Dallas as speedy or stretchy. The Mavs couldn’t run and shoot with abandon, but Kidd could orchestrate an aggressive offense that knew how to sniff out those clean, early looks. That often meant getting wings and big men behind plays into random pick-and-rolls, or pinning Nowitzki’s man early, or hitting Terry on the secondary break for a trailing jumper, or finding Josh Howard (later Shawn Marion) underneath a defense that’s collapsed after an early drag screen.

Given his conventional playbook at his previous stops, this shift to a more free-flowing offense seemed like a departure for Carlisle. But in time, we learned that Carlisle didn’t coach a deliberate, half-court game in Detroit and Indiana because he had a predisposition for it. He drew it up that way because his rosters necessitated more structure. When the circumstances in Dallas revealed themselves and he realized Kidd wasn’t Jamaal Tinsley or Anthony Johnson, Carlisle deftly adjusted to the talent around him and created something special.

Defensively, the Mavericks adopted an inventive zone defense strategy devised by Dwane Casey. They were the rare team that was able to effectively zone up after misses, and would actually employ both zone and man-to-man schemes within a single possession.

What were his characteristics as a player?
A plodding but an intensely hard-working shooting guard who was always prepared and stayed in impeccable shape. Curiously, he tallied only 3.5 rebounds per 36 minutes for a total rebounding rate of 5.4 percent -- one of the lowest in history for a guard his size. By all accounts, this wasn’t for a lack of effort, but a lack of hops.

Which coaches did he play for?
Carlisle played for Pine Tree State lifer Skip Chappelle at the University of Maine before transferring to the University of Virginia, where Terry Holland was the head coach. During his three years with the Boston Celtics, Carlisle came off the bench for K.C. Jones. Rick Pitino had Carlisle for a single season in New York. Carlisle finished his career as a player with New Jersey for Bill Fitch, who eventually offered him his first job on an NBA staff.

What is his coaching pedigree?
After being waived by the Nets, Carlisle got his start breaking down film under Fitch. In 1994, Carlisle joined P.J. Carlesimo's staff in Portland, where he worked alongside the legendary Dick Harter, the man responsible for the Bad Boy Pistons’ “Jordan Rules” defensive strategy. Harter had a tremendous influence on Carlisle, who ultimately adopted many of Harter’s principles in Detroit and Indiana -- strong base defense without much switching, few double-teams, help and rotations only when necessary and, above all, physicality. In 1997, Carlisle joined the coaching staff of former teammate Larry Bird in Indiana. Again Carlisle found himself on staff with defensive guru Harter. When Bird left the sideline in 2000, Carlisle was passed over for Isiah Thomas, but was tapped by the Pistons for his first head coaching gig. After two seasons in Detroit, Carlisle moved on to Indiana for four seasons before landing in Dallas in 2008 after a one-year sabbatical.

If basketball didn't exist, what might he be doing?
Working as a clinical psychologist.

Flop of the Night: Jordan Williams

March, 29, 2012
Mason By Beckley Mason
Last night was a big one for the New Jersey Nets, they took down a playoff team and not one but two of their players vying for Flop of the Night honors.

The winner is Jordan Williams, attempting to draw a charge without absorbing any contact. He does a great job of getting his feet in position, but instead of actually defending the Pacers' Tyler Hansbrough, he elects to have a seat under the basket. Hansbrough looks up, realizes that his previously perfectly positioned defender is now lying down, and dunks. (It turned out to be a horrid night for Williams, who left with concussion-like symptoms.)
Tyler Hansbrough

Jesse Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty
Nice defense.

DeShawn Stevenson earns honorable mention for high theater, and getting the call. The theatrical quality of this flop is truly breathtaking. It's unclear whether Danny Granger actually makes contact at all. Nonetheless Stevenson writhes in agony holding his cheek, even though the replay shows that Granger's elbow grazes either air, or the chin. It's reminiscent of soccer players being carted off the field only to be sprinting around the field a few minutes later, after securing the call.

Thanks to Jared Wade (@8pts9secs) for alerting us to that last one.

When you see an egregious flop that deserves proper recognition, send us a link to the video so we can consider it for Flop of the Night. Here's how to make your submission:
  • Alert HoopIdea to super flops with the Twitter hashtag #FlopOfTheNight (follow us on Twitter here).
  • Use the #FlopOfTheNight hashtag in Daily Dime Live.
  • E-mail us at

Doubting Dallas

December, 29, 2011
Mason By Beckley Mason
Last year Jason Terry had the audacity to get the Larry O’Brien Trophy etched into bicep.

Last year Tyson Chandler and assistant coach Dwane Casey elevated the Dallas defense to elite levels.

Last year Dallas raced to a blistering 24-5 record before stumbling over Dirk Nowtizki’s twisted knee and limping into the playoffs with a three seed.

Last year the Dallas Mavericks made fools of those who scoffed at the notion of the Mavericks escaping a first round matchup with the feisty and physical Portland Trailblazers.

This year Jason Terry can touch the real life Larry whenever he chooses.

This year Tyson Chandler and Dwane Casey are gone--Chandler for a fat check in the big city and Casey for a long overdue chance to coach his own team.

This year Dallas is 0-2, spanked twice by playoff teams, and faces another hungry foe in the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight.

This year Dallas might not make the playoffs.


NBA Champions often return from the offseason without the sense of urgency and all-consuming drive that took them to the top. Pat Riley called it “the disease of more.” His theory was that after winning a ring, the ultimate team accomplishment, players tend to look inward to their own goals of more playing time, more shots and more money.

It’s always tricky to speculate on the psyche of players thousands of miles away, but even from farflung couches one can see that this Mavericks squad has a severe and perhaps untreatable case of the disease of less--less talent and less belief. With little practice time and a bunch of new players, the Mavericks also have less time to right the ship.

Despite how devotedly Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd bail out the the boat, water will continue to flood the hull.

Riley’s theory is conveniently player-focused. It wasn’t his fault that the players he coached or signed couldn’t muster the requisite competitive zeal. But what is happening in Dallas is a direct result of front office personnel decisions that have almost nothing to do with this season or even last season.

For example Tyson Chandler had the best offensive rating in the NBA during last season’s regular season and playoffs. Simply put: when Chandler was on the court, the Mavericks scored more points per possession than did any other line up on any other team. As you might expect, Dallas’s most consistent defensive lineups also included Chandler.

Was $14.5 million per year over four years too high a price to keep a 29 year old center with 10 years on his injury prone legs? Maybe not, if the goal is to make a great run at winning again this year.

What about Josť Juan Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Caron Butler--three overpriced (well, not Stevenson) but useful wing players Dallas let walk for nothing. On-court chemistry was an important part of what made Dallas special last year, but keep in mind that the graves of former champions are dug with imprudent signings of replacement value players.

These moves make perfect sense if the off-season goal isn’t to reload for a repeat run at a ring but to scrub your cap sheet in hopes of landing Dwight Howard or Deron Williams in 2012.

That’s probably a wise decision. Williams grew up in Dallas and Howard scribbled the Mavs on his shortlist of places he’d like to play. Nowitzki needs a stud to play with in the twilight of his career, and both would be a fantastic compliment to the sweet-shooting big man. Even if neither ever wear a Maverick uniform, Dallas will still have about $25 mil to bring in better talent next year.

But think about how these decisions must appear to players like Jason Kidd and Lamar Odom.

Kidd is still capable but has spent more time playing against some of the other coaches in the league than he has against the likes of Derrick Rose. He’s old and he’s aware that he doesn’t have many more seasons left. Now he’s toiling in what is in effect a stop-gap season.

Odom went from a perennial contender that always made the big move to put itself in finals contention to a team that is obviously renting him for one season to free up cap space. He’s gone from 6th Man of the Year and rotation player for the league’s best franchise to a player whose primary value is that you don’t have to pay him for more than one year.

Even Nowitzki, he of tireless work ethic, mentioned that his motivation was down following the euphoria of his brilliant playoff run and subsequent slog at the Euros.

In their first two games of the season, the Mavericks’ characteristically sharp passing and incisive offense haven’t just been rusty, but dull.

It’s not possible to quantify spirit, but the their struggles so far are nothing so esoteric as “wanting it.” They just don’t have as many good players and this happened on purpose.

The message that Mark Cuban has been trying to spin is that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was the impetus for him gutting Mavericks roster. He told Dallas radio that “this is 100 percent about the CBA and understanding the impact it will have on the market."

That may be true, and it may very well be the smart play. But the the message to the entire team and coaching staff was “do your best this year, but your immediate success isn’t really our main concern.”

When, rightly or wrongly, the management views the current season as an afterthought, it must be difficult to muster the focus and passion that make last year’s Mavericks so special.

Beckley Mason is the founder of HoopSpeak. You can follow him on Twitter at @BeckleyMason.

Three ways to stop Dirk Nowitzki

May, 16, 2011
By Peter Newmann and Dean Oliver, ESPN Stats & Info
How do you defend a player who has averaged 25.0 points and 10.0 rebounds for his playoff career? That's the question the Oklahoma City Thunder will ask as they face Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.
Dirk Nowitzki

Nowitzki is one of four players to average those numbers for his postseason career. The other three -- Hakeem Olajuwon, Elgin Baylor, Bob Pettit -- are in the Hall of Fame. He's been a part of a Mavericks team that has made 11 straight postseasons, all 50-win seasons, as well.

So how should the Thunder attack such a daunting task that the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers this postseason couldn't handle?

1. Defend him out to the 3-point line
Nowitzki shot 50.2 percent during the regular season from the field outside the paint. That was the highest percentage in the league among players whose majority of shots came outside the paint and had at least 500 field-goal attempts outside the paint.

Nowitzki shot 49.2 percent in the regular season from 10 feet and beyond. That was the third-highest percentage in the NBA (Al Horford, Elton Brand).

He also doesn’t mind taking mid-range two-pointers on the baseline outside the paint. The Thunder didn’t get the message in the regular season as Nowitzki hit 57 percent of his shots against them in that spot.

2. Double-team when the shooters are off the court
The vast majority of double teams on Nowitzki result in passes to spot-up shooters. Often, these passes result in 3-pointers. As the Lakers found out in Game 4, the Mavericks don’t shy away from an open 3-pointer. During the regular season, 27.4 percent of the Mavericks field goal attempts were 3-pointers, the third-highest percentage in the NBA.

However, who do you leave open? Using “effective field goal percentage”, a metric adjusted for three-pointers, the Mavericks have four players who had a higher effective field goal percentage on spot-up shots than the league average of 48.3 percent.

3. Keep him off the free-throw line
Nowitzki is the only 7-footer to rank in the top 100 in NBA history in both free throw percentage (14th) and three-point percentage (86th). He has the highest free throw percentage (87.7 percent) and highest three-point field goal percentage (38.1) in NBA history for a seven-footer.

During the regular season, Nowitzki got to the free-throw line 19 times in two games against the Thunder, missing just once.
By Henry Abbott

Tiger Woods hurt his face, went to the hospital, and doesn't want to talk about it much with the authorities.

The police want to know more, though, and are mounting an investigation to find out what actually happened, even without anyone stepping forward as a victim of whatever crime may or may hot have occurred.

Compare that with another ritzy suburban Orlando incident that took place just about two-and-a-half miles and two-and-a-half years away.

As bad as Woods' facial injuries may be, this other was surely more dangerous to the community at large, with the sheriff's office reporting shell casings on the ground from multiple guns, blood here and there, and bullets lodged in one house, two or three cars, and the leg of a man named Curtis Ruff.

Yet in that case, at the home of Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson, not a single charge was filed, for the simple reason that no one was willing to cooperate with authorities.

And in that way, Tiger Woods' evidently much less dangerous situation, is very similar. It's not clear who the victim or victims may be, but whoever they are, they're keeping their thoughts from the authorities.

In the Woods case, the police are pressing for details.

The day after the incident at Stevenson's house in August 2007, Orange County Sheriff's public information officer Jim Solomons told me the following:

When we responded to the house, two vehicles had been shot, there were bullet holes in the house, there was blood on more than one vehicle. About a half-hour later a guy who had been seen in the neighborhood of the shooting turned up at a hospital in a Cadillac Escalade. I don't know if he had been shot in one or both legs.

Nobody involved is cooperating. The people at the house [identified in a sheriff's department press release as including Washington Wizard DeShawn Stevenson, who owns the house, and former Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Orlando Magic player Brandon Hunter] do not want to prosecute. The guy at the hospital [Curtis Ruff] has told two or three different versions of what happened.

The way the law is written, if there is no victim, there is no crime -- unless we find some other state violation, where the state is the victim, like, for instance a concealed weapons charge. In my 22 years on the job it has never made sense to me. But the way the law is written, if I were to shoot at you, and you decide you are not going to cooperate in any way, even though everyone involved might know I'm the shooter, there's nothing they can do about prosecuting it.

Frustrating and bizarre, huh? It certainly seems like plenty of people were shooting guns in a residential area -- there's even a bullet lodged in human flesh and presented for treatment at a local hospital -- and yet the police can't even really even begin the process of bringing anybody to justice?

Now, I know we all want to know what really happened in the case of the famous golfer. But if you're in the business of trying to keep Florida safe, what's the bigger priority -- getting to the bottom of the SUV vs. fire hydrant case, or the one with blood-and-shell casings littered about? And why do I suspect that in time we'll get to know all about the Tiger Woods case, while there might never be anything else in the works in the case of the shooting at DeShawn Stevenson's house?

Only the Cavalier is really a Bull and not a Cavalier. And the contest is really beard-growing and not basketball.

But why nitpick. It's a victory

As has been reported a number of places by now, there was a shooting last night in front of DeShawn Stevenson's house in the Orlando area.

Initial reports said an NBA player was shot in the leg, but subsequent reports contradict that, and the Orange County Sheriff's department confirms that a man named Curtis Ruff was shot either in one or both legs.

Sheriff's public information officer Jim Solomons tells me that they got the call at about 3:58 this morning:

When we responded to the house, two vehicles had been shot, there were bullet holes in the house, there was blood on more than one vehicle. About a half-hour later a guy who had been seen in the neighborhood of the shooting turned up at a hospital in a Cadillac Escalade. I don't know if he had been shot in one or both legs.

Nobody involved is cooperating. The people at the house [identified in a sheriff's department press release as including Washington Wizard DeShawn Stevenson, who owns the house, and former Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Orlando Magic player Brandon Hunter] do not want to prosecute. The guy at the hospital has told two or three different versions of what happened.

The way the law is written, if there is no victim, there is no crime -- unless we find some other state violation, where the state is the victim, like, for instance a concealed weapons charge. In my 22 years on the job it has never made sense to me. But the way the law is written, if I were to shoot at you, and you decide you are not going to cooperate in any way, even though everyone involved might know I'm the shooter, there's nothing they can do about prosecuting it. As it stood, last I checked, prior to the noon TV broadcasts, that's where this case was.

The Sheriff's office also provided some documents.

One officer's report from this morning recounts what Stevenson and Hunter, as well as a man named Ronnie Millsap and a woman named Jennifer Calderon, told officers on the scene.

Millsap and Hunter, says the report, drove home from a club being followed by some women they had just met. Stevenson was, they say, asleep at home throughout the incident. They were followed to the house by a white Escalade, and when they got to the house the man in the Escalade (also identified in places as silver) allegedly argued with the women. Quoting the report:

Millsap stated Hunter approached the suspect and the suspect stated, "You don't know me," and went back to his vehicle. Hunter and Millsap started back to the residence. The suspect emerged from his vehicle and began firing an unknown variety of handgun toward the residence. Millsap stated he struck Stevenson's Lexus in the rear windshield and driver's side rear window, Hunter's BMW in the passenger's side window, and Stevenson's residence on the wall. Millsap and Hunter ran back inside and reported the incident. Millsap stated the vehicle rode up and down the street two or three times then left. ... I asked Hunter and Millsap if they shot at the Escalade. They stated they ran back inside and hid until I arrived. A shell casing was located at rear of the driver's side of the Lexus and one at the front passenger side of the BMW.

The sheriff's office also provided a copy of the criminal rap sheet of the man who was shot, Curtis Ruff. According to the records, Ruff goes by various other names, as well. There are 44 arrest records, the vast majority of which have the word "cocaine" in them, usually accompanied by the words "possession" or "distribution." There are also some gun charges (including one allegedly involving an altered serial number), a home invasion charge, battery on a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault, grand theft, and a few others.

UPDATE: Curtis Ruff's online records from the Florida Department of Corrections.

UPDATE: Brandon Hunter has been reported as being a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was on the Cavaliers' summer league team last summer (2006), and was cut in training camp. He has also played for Boston and Orlando.