I pose the question in the headline without actually knowing the answer. Heading into the season, all hope seemed lost in Dallas. Mark Cuban was acting like a scorned lover after the DeAndre Jordan debacle. Their big offseason acquisition was bringing in the decomposing corpse of Deron Williams. And Dirk Nowitzki was yet another year older.
None of that seems to matter, though. The Dallas Mavericks are essentially trying to punch Father Time in the face while curb-stomping Mother Nature when no one is looking. And it, oddly enough, it has worked so far. The Dallas Mavericks aren’t technically defeating those two mythological foes, but they’re sure as hell giving them a run for their money.
Williams has played well so far this season. Through 17 games, the former arguably-best-point-guard-in-the-NBA-turned-Brooklyn-Nets-washout is averaging 14-5-3; Dirk is putting up gaudy numbers. Not only for a 37-year old, but for anyone — getting 17 points and 7 boards an outing, while shooting an absurdly efficient 50 percent from three and 52 percent from the floor. But even Dirk continuing to play at such a high-level is yet another indication of his greatness.
That’s simply insane. More so for Williams, as it looked as though his NBA career was closer to being over more than anything.
We haven’t even mentioned that Zaza Pachulia, at the age of 31, who is having the best NBA season of his career, and it isn’t even close. While some of the intangibles he brings to the table can’t be measured in a box score or advanced stats, his near double-double per night (10.8 points, 9.5 boards) can.
Really, his impact on Dallas’ success is so direct and unexpected that it is immeasurable in the sense that it is more laughable that it is actually happening than it is something that can be explained with the correct nouns, verbs, adjectives, and other words found in the English language.
So here we are, a few paragraphs in, and nothing makes sense from a realistic sense. None of it. Unless you are a die-hard fan, none of the things happening ever happen in the NBA. This is all “best case” scenarios actually playing out for the Mavericks.
Other, non-old humans have contributed in big ways for Dallas, too. Dwight Powell has seemed to develop from being the back end of the bench type to a true, solid role player. Wesley Matthews — while nowhere near as efficient as he’s been in previous seasons — provides a much-needed scoring jolt to the Mavericks. And a slew of never-weres and never-will-bes have rounded out a roster that seemed destined to get swallowed by the Western Conference but have risen from the ashes to be more than competent.
Obviously, this is a testament to how good of a coach Rick Carlisle is. Taking the aforementioned aging stars, as well the non-old guys previously mentioned, then, coupling that with Charlie Villanueva getting 12 minutes per night in 2015, and Carlisle is basically an NBA player-whisperer or something.
It is hard to explain, but even with Luke Walton not unintentionally preventing Golden State from being all that and a bag of chips, Carlisle might as well be gifted the Coach of the Year award today. If for no other reason than his roster looking like it would only do fair in 2010 — and he has it playing good in 2015. Honestly, this isn’t even a roster that would be all the alluring in 2010, either.
Regardless, this is the roster the Mavericks will have the rest of the way. The one Carlisle will have to work his magic with. There’s no real assets to trade, which is worth noting. None which would bring in any players that are better than the ones they have now or will fit in more with this small-window visioned team. Definitely not ones who would help put a nice ending to the Dirk era, as Mark Cuban has been trying so desperately hard to do and Nowitzki has put his helping hand in by taking less money.
The question concerning Dallas moving forward is about sustainability. Can Carlisle and his retirement home keep injuries from happening, while avoiding the burnout which tends to happen to the legs of the old, and continue to overachieve with this team?
Honestly, who knows? I wouldn’t bet against them, though. 10-7 isn’t exactly the greatest start in the world, yet it is downright absurd when you look at the team Dallas trots out on any given night.
That’s it. I am asking for it. Rick Carlisle for president. Anything else would be an atrocity.