2014-10-23 Sefko: Greg Smith, self-proclaimed 'giant gnat,' plans to bug opponents - Dallas Morning News
    2014-10-22 Division Preview: Anthony Davis leads New Orleans Pelicans as team hopes to stay healthy - The Pelicans aren't contenders yet but they could give the Mavs and others a scare. Injuries stifled the inaugural season of the New Orleans Pelicans. Even their mascot was sidelined with a beak injury for a time. In all, 11 players missed time with Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday, and Jason Smith absorbing the brunt of the injuries sustained by the team. Anderson, Gordon, Holiday, and Smith all suffered season-ending injuries. What potential this young team possessed was quickly dashed. Entering the 2014-15 campaign, the Pelicans are looking to shake their injury woes. The young core of the team is healthy again, although Evans may still be a concern, and new players have been added to the roster. Barring the setbacks from last season, New Orleans could turn some heads, not just in the Southwest Division but also the NBA. Offseason changes The Pelicans added Omer Asik, Jimmer Fredette, John Salmons, Russ Smith, and Patric Young this summer. Outside of Asik, it's kind of a hodgepodge of journeymen and unknowns. However, what Asik brings to the table just might be what New Orleans is looking for. Last season, Asik asked to be traded from the Houston Rockets. He wasn't happy being the backup center to Dwight Howard and frankly, the lineups when he was paired with Howard just didn't work. Asik saw himself as a starter. On the Pelicans, that's exactly what he will be. Offensive breakdown What Asik provides is solid interior defense and rebounding. He can also score at the rim. With Asik planting himself in the paint, he will allow Davis more freedom as he slides over to power forward. Davis isn't built like many stretch fours in the league. He's long, lean, and extremely athletic but he also possesses an almost unmatched defensive prowess, leading the league in blocks per game with 2.8. Not only that, but he has extended the range of his jump shot and could look to burn opponents from midrange and downtown more this season. Davis will be in the MVP conversation, especially with Kevin Durant sidelined for several months. While Davis is the budding star, he cannot do it all. The return of all his injured teammates will help, especially Anderson and Holiday, a former All-Star. Unfortunately, depth will be an issue for the Pelicans yet again. New Orleans lost Al-Farouq Aminu (who is now with the Mavericks), Melvin Ely, Pierre Jackson, Anthony Morrow, Brian Roberts, and Jason Smith. As mentioned, the cast of characters the team brought in this offseason is mediocre at best outside of Asik. For the Pelicans to be successful this season, they need to be, well, healthy first and foremost. Aside from that, they must play at a higher pace. Davis thrived in the up-tempo environment of Team USA's World Cup victory in Spain this summer. However, head coach Monty Williams has consistently kept his team's pace low posting marks of 88.7, 88.3, 88.5, and 92.2 in his first four years as head coach. For a team as young as this, there is no reason not to let them get out in the open court as much as possible. Defensive breakdown If Williams gets the offense humming this season, he still has to worry about the other end of the floor. Even with Davis' length and shot-blocking ability, the Pelicans were an abysmal defensive unit last season. The team posted a defensive rating of 110.1 which ranked 27th in the league. Allowing that many points isn't going to set New Orleans up to win many games. A lot of the reason that the Pelicans traded for Asik (this post is on the verge of Asik-mania at this point) is because he can be a defensive anchor for the team. In two seasons with the Rockets, he posted a personal defensive rating of 103. Only Howard had a better rating last season. Mind you, Houston isn't a great defensive team. However, if Asik can perform at or near that mark again, he could have a huge impact on the Pellies' half-court defense. As mentioned above, the addition of Asik will serve to activate Davis. He will be free to roam and switch along the perimeter, disrupting passing lanes and hedging picks with his length and size. His shot blocking should remain robust as well. He stands to have plenty of weak-side and come from behind opportunities. Even if Asik and Davis click, though, the Pelicans will not be an elite defense. Their guards are too offensive minded. The ideal situation for the team on defesnse is a slight to moderate improvement this season. This is a team that is still building and growing, after all. When the teams meet The Pelicans aren't going to win the division, they are too young and inexperienced. However, they could give the Mavericks fits when they meet. Dallas swept New Orleans last season and a lot of the reasons why can be placed on the injuries. Davis went down in one of those contests. Yet, if the Pelicans can stay healthy, there's no reason why they could take a game or two from the Mavericks this season. On paper, New Orleans is a matchup nightmare. There's a reason Dallas loaded up with long athletic wings this offseason. They know Anthony Davis is coming and Hell's coming with him. Mavs Moneyball
    2014-10-22 The Annual NBA League Pass Rankings, Part 2 - Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe conclude their semi-scientific formula of what NBA teams you should be watching this season and why. Grantland
    2014-10-20 Bernard James preview: How much longer will Sarge be around? - In his third season, Sarge may have hit his NBA ceiling as an emergency big. Is his time in Dallas up? Even before the Mavs signed Charlie Villenueva, Bernard James was (at best) the Mavs' fourth center, behind Tyson Chandler, Brandan Wright, and Greg Smith. And there are probably some who would rather have Ivan Johnson than Sarge. Personally, I don't get that. Sarge is perfect for what he is. A cheap, popular emergency big, who hopefully never has to play, but gives you energy and grit when he does. Unfortunately, because the Mavs seem dead set on getting a stretch 4 on the roster (signing Charlie V to replace the previously signed, but lost to injury, Rashard Lewis), Sarge's days are numbered. He can't be traded until December, but the rumors are already starting up. But let's say Sarge is still here in January and beyond; what will his role be? Looking at Last Year In 2013-2014, Sarge played in just 30 games and averaged just under 5 minutes per game. 0.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg, and 0.3 bpg are not exactly eye-popping numbers, but no one expected eye-popping from a second round pick who was already 27 years old when he was drafted. His per 36 numbers from last year are really pretty decent, especially for a 3rd center. Per 36 minutes, Sarge averaged 6.9 points and 10.4 blocks per game. Still, Sarge's contributions to the team aren't really measured by stats. He served the same role he served his rookie year, filling in only if someone was injured or deep in Carlisle's doghouse. Unlike 2012-2013, last year's Mavs big men stayed mostly healthy, so Sarge wasn't needed as much. He did have one memorable night in Frisco, playing 37 minutes for the Legends while shooting 90%, scoring 38 points, nabbing 18 rebounds, and blocking 4 shots. Best Case Scenario Assuming Sarge sticks around, you can think about this two ways: best case for Sarge and best case for the Mavs. Best case for Sarge might be that one or more of the bigs in front of him on the depth chart get injured, and Sarge thus gets an opportunity to play in the rotation. He then proves that he has figured out the NBA game since last season, and proves he has the potential to be a legitimate backup center while playing something like 10 minutes a game. Best case scenario for the Mavs is obviously that no one gets injured and everyone plays up to their ability. In this scenario, Sarge rides the pine the entire season and is never needed to step on the court. They always say that the best insurance plans are the ones you never have to use, right? Worst Case Scenario I think the worst case for Sarge and the Mavs is aligned. The worst possible outcome is that, due to a rash of injuries, Sarge is required to play big minutes and simply can't handle it. This would be particularly terrible if the injury was to starter Tyson Chandler. If the Mavs need to rely on Sarge for any significant stretch of time, and he can't provide something close to league-average center play, you can probably kiss the playoffs goodbye. If Sarge is forced to play 10 minutes a game or more this season, for whatever reason, it will likely be a make or break year for him. If a larger role proves too much for him, it is unlikely any team is going to take a flyer on a 30-year-old emergency center who has never really done anything in the NBA. Off-the-Court Value One of the reasons that I'd like to see Sarge stick around for at least another season is that he is such a worthwhile presence in the DFW and Mavs community. And he has such a great story. By all reports he is a good guy and a good teammate. And because Sarge is making the minimum, he is an overall positive value for his role (both insurance plan and great guy) from a business perspective. If Sarge does end up getting traded, I wish him nothing but the best. His time in the NBA may be limited, but I'm sure he'll continue to do great things in the future. Mavs Moneyball
    2014-10-20 Blessed to see another morning - None twitter
    2014-10-20 NBA Depth Chart Projections for All 30 Teams Going into 2014-15 Season - PG: Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris, Raymond Felton, Gal Mekel, Yuki Togashi SG: Monta Ellis, Ricky Ledo, Doron Lamb SF: Chandler Parsons, Richard Jefferson, Jae Crowder, Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Griffin PF: Dirk Nowitzki, Brandan Wright, Charlie Villanueva, Ivan Johnson C: Tyson Chandler, Greg Smith, Bernard James Key Additions: Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler, Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton, Richard Jefferson, Al-Farouq Aminu The Mavericks' starting lineup should be replete with new (old) faces in 2014-15. Parsons has been strutting his jack-of-all-trades stuff this preseason, Chandler (i.e. Tyson Chandler) is re-establishing his rightful place in the middle of Rick Carlisle's defense and Nelson has crept ahead of the Mavs' morass at point guard. Mild injuries to the two incumbent starters (Nowitzki and Ellis) have opened up opportunities for Jefferson and Aminu to play. Jefferson scored 13 points apiece against the Thunder and the Pacers, with the latter coming as a starter. Aminu, an athletic scrapper by trade, went for 14 points of his own opposite OKC while Dirk rested. Position to Watch: Point guard Nelson's starting spot in Dallas would hardly seem set in stone. Not that Harris and Felton are such stellar competition, but Nelson, at 32, isn't exactly an overwhelming option himself. The real intrigue here—for the time being, anyway—is supplied by Yuki Togashi. The 5'7 waterbug out of Japan is in camp with the Mavs for now, but is expected to join the D-League's Texas Legends once the regular season starts. "I’d say it’s a long shot at best for him to make [an NBA] roster right now," Mavs general manager Donnie Nelson told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Dwain Price. "But it’s an opportunity for him to make his dream come true in reality to play for the Legends and, like so many guys before him, to use this as a springboard to get in the league." B/R NBA
    2014-10-19 ABOUT TO LAND IN DALLAS WITH THE BROS.!! @ju_smith4 galmekel @chandlerparsons #DHARRIS #MAVSNATION http://t.co/PR16kW95qN - None twitter
    2014-10-18 Wright and Greg Smith have such nice touch around the rim. - None twitter
    2014-10-18 Great, great cut by Jae Crowder. Resulted in open bucket for Greg Smith. - None twitter
    2014-10-18 RT @EarlKSneed: .@dallasmavs starters: Gal Mekel, Richard Jefferson, Jae Crowder, Ivan Johnson and Greg Smith. #DALatIND - None twitter
    2014-10-18 Hit me!! - None instagram
    2014-10-18 New phone. Lost contacts. Got my number hit me. - None twitter
    2014-10-18 Take advantage of what's in front of you, may be your only chance to make your dream come true!!! - None twitter

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