Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Devil On My Shoulder

After I posted some thoughts on the Maverick's defensive numbers last week, JakeN commented that, in his opinion, the Mavs might be better served by trading Josh Howard.

I'm afraid he might be right.

I've been writing for a long time that the Mavs really need Josh Howard back. Josh Howard, the potential All Star, very good defender, guy who can slash and spin straw into in-the-paint gold.

We're still waiting.

Josh has been physically present for a while now, and he's started the last four games at the 2-guard. In the games he's started, the Mavs are 2-2 and the bad guys are shooting 47.58% including 32.83% on three pointers. Howard's field goal percentage in that same stretch figure to 25.78%, and he's got an average plus-minus of -7.25. Here's some more detail from David Lord:

The Mavs began this season with Josh mostly in street clothes, as he worked his way back from injury for as month or so. Without him, they logged a 13-7 record, which over 82 games would put them on pace for 53-54 wins and a likely 2nd-6th playoff seed in the West.

But now he's back and has played quite a few games. With him added to the lineup, after Sunday in Toronto they are a glittering, wonderful, impressive (wait for it) … 13-7.

There is something about Josh Howard's playing that is missing. Call it the balls-out effort, call it a new sense of skittishness (reasonable fear is something people can learn very late in life), call it bad vibes. But the Mavericks were winning as many games when JJ Barea was starting (!!!).

Coach hasn't made any adjustments to limit his playing time or his possessions. I can see why he might want to allow Josh some rope; if he's been a good boy it makes sense to demonstrate confidence in him by allowing him the opportunity to play through mistakes.

I disagree. I respect Josh, I do. But I don't have that much faith in his better judgment. I just don't. From the standpoint of a total layperson, the conclusion drawn from the numbers is that allowing Josh the luxury of trying to get his game going is costing us wins. It can also be construed, given the drop in defensive effort and efficiency, that it's fucked the Mavericks up as a unit. How and why that could be, I don't have enough information to even hazard a reasonable guess.

In the wash, I think the real question that needs to be asked -- and to be totally honest, should've been asked weeks ago -- is simple. Is it fair -- to the team, to the coaches, to whoever's gotta be the man (usually Dirk) -- to turn the Mavericks back into a one-man band whilst we wait and pray for Josh to get his head screwed on straight?

I give him another two weeks -- that's seven games, three of which are against winning teams. Call it the J-Ho, Let's Go watch.

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