Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

January 11, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan
  (3:00 PM)

Welcome back to the Wednesday edition of Mavs chat with me, Jeff Caplan. Mavs take on the Celtics tonight in Boston, which should be a pretty interesting game.I appreciate you coming in today and so let's get on with it.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:00 PM)

I should also mention that tonight's game is a nationally televised one on ESPN.

Sandor Kato (Choke City)

Hey Jeff!!! I love love LOVE the Dallas Mavericks!!!! How long until we see the mavs finally become the team we saw last year???

Jeff Caplan
  (3:02 PM)

Sandor, which Choke City are you in? Anyway, you won't see the team you saw last year, way too many different players and different identities and skills. But, I think you can see an efficient club, but one that attacks differently. For instance, Vince Carter will post up and go one-on-one more than anybody the team had last season. And, with no Tyson Chandler filling out the middle on defense, the zone is going to be quite different. So, don't expect to see last season, but anticipate this season.

Karam Skaf (Riverside California )

Question 1: Come summer of 2012 if Dwight Howard has not been traded, do you find him and Deron Williams destination to be most likely Dallas? And if so do you think the Mavericks will be the team to beat in the NBA for a very long time? Question 2: Do you think if Deron and Dwight coming to Dallas will make the Dallas Mavericks the next LA Lakers? Where everybody wants to play for the Mavericks and work under Mark Cuban who has made a name for himself as a passionate basketball Owner and a caring man who loves his players, the city of Dallas, the sport of basketball.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:05 PM)

Karam, thanks for the long-winded questions. Hey, I get accused of the same thing all the time so no worries...If Dwight Howard has not been traded, the Mavs stand a very strong chance of landing either Howard or Deron Wiliams, and a decent shot at landing both. Pretty crazy, huh? If they get both, yes, it would obviously make Dallas the team to beat at least until Dirk retires...As for does it make them the next LA Lakers, I'd say the next Miami Heat.

Jason (Fort Worth)

Jeff, just wondering what you think the Mavs chances might be come playoff time when they have 66 games under their belt together? Alot of weapons and OKC, LA aren't the scariest teams out there, especially to Dallas. Also, just bc he gets no credit from any Mavs fans, I would like to say Brendan Haywood has been amazing. The guy obviously goes about his business like a professional. He's finishing strong this year and playing great defense. If their team defense continues to get better, I like the team.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:08 PM)

Jason, my biggest concern with this team after 66 games is how worn down are players like Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, and even Dirk, who has taken to wearing a sleeve on his right knee, the one he hurt last season,although he downplays that anything is bothering him regarding the knee. If they get in healthy and relatively rested I give Dallas a shot to beat anybody in the West. OKC has looked good, but has also shown some of the same immaturity and poor decisions against the Mavs that they showed last season. Much, much more will be learned once February rolls around and teams have more games under the belt and their legs up under them, as they say.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What Dallas Mavericks Players will play in the 2012 NBA All-Star Game?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:09 PM)

Chris, at this point I would say that Dirk again will be the only All-Star. Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and Lamar Odom are all on the ballot. Only Terry - other than Dirk - is averaging in double figures at the moment.

BK (Work)

CAP Delonte West seems to be a pretty mellow cool guy but just seems to unintentionally alway be on the wrong end of things what type of person do you think he really is. Cause knowing rick he doesnt seem like the type of person to take on people with extra baggage like that.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:12 PM)

Unintentionally, huh? Well, people get on the wrong side of things for a reason. Delonte is definitely an interesting person. I have had extremely positive communication with him since his arrival. He seems like a genuine dude that might be misunderstood or gets into some unfortunate situations. Now, we also know that he has lived with bi-polar disorder, so that's whole other situation that most guys don't have to deal with. Now, on the court, he has delivered everything the Mavs could have asked except for a higher shooting percentage. But, this guy came here to backup Jason Kidd and is now the starting 2-guard (well, when Kidd is in the lineup). He's fifth in the league in steals and had 10 assists last night.Tonight should be fun against his former team and matching up with Rajon Rondo.

BK (Work)

I know it comes at a little bit of garbage time or 3-5 minutes here or there but am I getting excited about B Wright for no reason or do we have something in him?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:15 PM)

BK,first off, let's let the folks know that you are Brandan Wright, some might not get the BK right off the bat. You're not exactly a household name. Now, reason to get exicted? Maybe. The good news is that for now you've moved ahead of Sean Williams and that wasn't a certainty a week or so ago. Your minutes ar going to be limited on this team because of its depth at the 4 and 5, and really because Ian Mahinmi has been so good. There was some concern that depth would be an issue if Mahinmi couldn't handle the backup job. But, stay positive, BK, because in this compacted schedule, everyone is going to play. As Carlisle says, be ready.

Chase (DFW)

What do you think the chances, percentage wise, are that the Mavs grab a top 3 seed in the playoffs?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:18 PM)

Well, Chase, that's an interesting question. I picked Dallas to go 40-26. Is that a top 3 record? OKC is going to reel off a lot of wins. Portland is better than I expected. The Lakers are putting a few things together. At the same time, injury-plagued Memphis is in trouble. So, this thing is wide open. But, yes, Dallas could be a top 3 team. Injuries and rest are going to determine a lot. Dallas would certainly like a top 3 spot, but it won't risk health to get there. The goal is just to get in the playoffs.

denver (amarillo, tx)

Why are the mavs not using Wright at power forword off the bench instead of Cardinal. He seems to really impact the game when he's in there. Cardinals shots arn't going in and he seems really slow and foul prone.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:20 PM)

Denver in Amarillo...I'm glad you're not Amarillo in Denver, that'd be weird. Brian Cardinal isn't really getting all that much time at PF. He gets spot minutes here and there and the reason he does is because Carlisle trusts him to be in the place and do the right thing, especially on defense. Cardinal's 3-ball has been way off, but Carlisle will take a drawing a charge over busting a 3 any day.

Jaime (Mexico)

Long time since I was here, what do you think about Nowitzki's shooting stats in this season? For me that has proved that he is a a hard worker because to play like that needs to do a lot on preseason and as we can see he can be an avergare player without practicing and work ethic.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:22 PM)

Jaime, welcome back and stop being a stranger...As for Dirk, no doubt the guy is one of the hardest workers in the league. His low percentage picked up to 46 percent after last night's 9-of-10. He'll continue to get better. He's the first to admit that a two-week training camp did him no favors and that he's still getting in shape. He didn't forget how to shoot and he's still getting great looks that he will begin to knock down with regularity.

Jimmy (LR)

Can you rank the top 5 in the West so far this season?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:24 PM)

Well, so far just look at the standings. OKC swept its back to back to back and is 9-2. Portland has been very good. San Antonio is 6-4 but has injuries. I like Denver and the Lakers now at 7-4. There, that's five. Notice the Clips aren't in there quite yet.

Moonrockrussell [via mobile]

Do you think Roddy knows that if he plays too good he will get traded?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:25 PM)

Moon, clever theory, but I don't think that thought has ever crossed Roddy's mind. Roddy's cheap and sure the Mavs could trade him in a salary dump to clear a couple more million for the summer, but Roddy is focused on making his mark on this team, finally getting past his injury and learning how to play solid defense and make good decisions as a point guard on a consistent basis.

Brad (Toronto)

Suppose the Mavs have to choose between Howard and Williams, because they can't get both for whatever reason. Would they go for Williams as the PG of the future, or Howard and hope they can get a pg later on?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:28 PM)

Brad, what position is in shortest supply in the NBA and what position would teams kill for to get a quality one of these, let alone a superstar?Yep, center. Dwight Howard would be my guy. You don't necessarily need a dominant point guard to win big, but a dominant center almost assures title contention in this league, especially when surrounded by a Dirk. If Howard isn't available, Deron Williams will be a wonderful fallback and both would be an incredible roster alteration.

Gerald (Texas)

Is Dirk's right knee a 100%? It seems he isn't moving as well as he could be, especially when running up and down the court.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:28 PM)

Gerald, yeah, not sure what to make of it other than something is bothering. I'm with you, I don't think he's moving that great, but he insists it's no big deal, so I'll ride with that until something or someone says otherwise.

Brett Townsend (Los Angeles)

How long until people take notice of Ian Mahinmi's performance? This guy was drafted by the Spurs which is never a bad thing, and has had time to develop playing with Duncan, Dirk, Chadler, etc - I know Haywood is the better defender, but, do you see Ian moving into the starting lineup soon with his ability to finish at the rim and make free throws?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:30 PM)

Brett, I really don't see Ian moving into the starting job because that might totally ruin Haywood. Plus, like you said, Haywood is still the better defender and rebounder, don't discount the rebounding, Ian typically just doesn't grab many.Haywood has his droughts, but when he's engaged he can give you 8 to 10. Around Dallas people are taking notice of Ian for sure, but how many backup centers make waves around the league?

Conrad (Dallas)

Hey Jeff, where do you see Yi Jianlin fitting in?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:31 PM)

Very hard to say. He is 7-foot, but like Dirk, he really doesn't play center. So, that means he has to find minutes behind Dirk and Lamar Odom. Come to think of it, if Odom doesn't shape up soon, Yi could move in. Carlisle called Yi a project, so don't expect an instant rotation role.

Brad (Toronto)

Jeff, what do you think th chances are that the Mavs do in fact get both Dwight Howard and Deron Williams this summer?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:33 PM)

Brad, I don't think they land both. I just don't see it. Then again, when you break it down in the case of Howard making it to free agency, it certainly could happen. The problem is I just don't see how Orlando holds onto him and then watches him walk for nothing. If Orlando can't get a commitment from Howard by the mid-March trade deadline then they have to trade him. If they trade him, he's pretty much off the market. Mavs just have to hope he isn't traded to New Jersey, which would likely lock both up in Brooklyn.

Ryan Barrett (Dallas)

Is it me or does it seem like the Mavs have stockpiled 5-6 young guys to surround the veterans, and in turn, are really increasing their value as trade bait around the league? (DOJO, Roddy, Yi, Wright who has looked fantastic so far, and the forgotten Shawn Williams) and then the older-than-you-think Mahinmi who is going to get paid by somebody - this guy is showing flashes of Roy Tarpley - are these guys a lot more valuable than we initially thought?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:36 PM)

Ryan, not sure about that. Mahinmi is obviously increasing his value, but Dojo? Roddy? We haven't even seen Yi play. Has Wright really looked fantastic? Maybe I haven't been paying attention. all these guys are low-salary, one-year guys (mostly), so they all can be throw-ins for trades.

Charlene Warner (Addison)

Why are the Mavericks set on making Roddy Beaubois a point guard despite Kidd being injured? He is a shooting guard, its as simple as that. I wanted him to become a PG very much but it just is not going to work. Do you think they should just have DOJO/Delonte/Lamar and even Terry who was the PG on 2006 Finals team play PG when Kidd is out?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:37 PM)

Charlene, the reason is that at 6-2 (more like 6-0) and 185 (more like 175, if that) Roddy is not built to play shooting guard in this league. He is a shooting guard in a point guard's body. The Mavs see his quickness and long arms and say this is a pointg guard who can drive and hit the 3. They wanted him to replace Kidd down the road. He is clearly more comfortable at the 2. This is a big season of progression for him.

steven (DC)

Roddy seems to have forgotten where the paint is on the offensive end because he never attacks the rim anymore. Do you attribute that to a lingering lack of confidence in his foot?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:38 PM)

That is part of it. Ever since he came back last season he stopped driving and settles for long jumpers. Dirk called him out on this the other day. He says the foot gets better and better.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:41 PM)

OK everybody, that'll do it for this week. Thanks so much for joining me. It was a solid turn out. Remember, Mavs back at home Friday and Saturday and then I'll be in LA for our chat next week as the Mavs will play the Lakers on Monday and then Clippers on Wednesday. Always check espndallas.com for the most updated Mavs news in the Metroplex. Thanks everyone!