What do you get when you put together an NBA starting lineup all on the wrong side of 30?
To be general, a bad defensive team. To be specific, the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks.
What do you do when you have a bad defensive team?
As Shawn Marion can attest to: Run and Gun.
Playing a Nellie Ball system would take advantage of the Mavericks' strengths and hide many of their deficiencies, particularly on the defensive end.
Dallas already has the personnel necessary to quickly adopt this system: veteran players who will do anything to win, an intelligent and creative point guard, a plethora of athletic wings, a pair of athletic centers (Mahinmi, not Haywood), and the best shooting big man in the NBA.
An adoption of this system would all start with Jason Kidd. At this point in his career, Kidd can barely keep up with opposing point guards and can only be asked to play shutdown defensive in short spurts. However, Kidd has not lost his ability to handle the ball, ignite fast breaks, and put teammates in a position to get easy buckets.
This leads to the players to whom Kidd will be feeding the ball.
Jason Terry is a lights-out shooter when he is open in transition and able to step into his shot.
Caron Butler has committed his offseason to getting slimmer and faster, and is always good for a highlight reel dunk each game
Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler, and Ian Mahinmi are always ready for the alley-oop.
Dirk is still Dirk.
Tim Thomas is still Dirk-lite.
This hasn't even included Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones, two electrifying youngsters who will both surely benefit from not having trying to guard the likes of Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant.
This idea isn't new to Dallas. Coach Rick Carlisle has already tried to adopt the running aspect of this system in the 2009-10 season, though it failed miserably because of the defensive disposition he was asking his senior citizens to commit to.
Carlisle basically envisioned the Mavericks playing tough defense and sprinting down the floor after every opponent's missed shot.
In short, he wanted to turn the Mavs into the Nuggets.
This game plan worked for about 30 games, in which the coach kept a very open rotation to keep his older players fresh and eager to work.
Suddenly Carlisle put a lid on his rotation, and the team sputtered because of the workload.
It's evident now that the Mavericks' starters didn't buy into playing lockdown defense and Nellie Ball offensive at this point of their careers.
No one is advocating that Dallas should completely abandon defense, especially when Haywood is a defensive true center, but most of the focus on the defensive end should be kept at the wings.
The 2006-07 Phoenix Suns, who had Boris Diaw and Raja Bell at the wings with Marion at forward and Kurt Thomas, come to mind.
Even though the West had much more disparity back then, the Suns still went 61-21 and were a legitimate contender.
Today, the West is much tougher, but run and gun will reduce the effects of larger teams such as the Lakers, Spurs, and Rockets because their big men simply cannot keep up in transition.
Remember how Rodrigue Beaubois shredded the defensive-based Spurs in Game 6 this past season?
While these big teams can and will pound Dallas inside and on the boards, weren't they doing that when Dallas was trying to defend them anyways?
All Dallas has to do is play real defense with Marion, DeShawn Stevenson, Butler, and Haywood and play matador defense and gamble on steals with everyone else.
"Seven seconds or less" may not bring Dallas a championship, but at least the Mavericks would be fun to watch again.
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