B Dirk Nowitzki, power forward: Picked up the pace after an uneven November, reestablishing himself as the team’s scoring and rebounding leader. Not putting up MVP numbers, but his all-around game is still improving despite being in his 10th season. Shoe-in for a spot on the West team next month in New Orleans.
A Josh Howard, small forward: The team’s most versatile piece at both ends is scoring more than 20 for the first time in his career. Often jumpstarts the offense with big first quarters. Jumper can be erratic. Should be an All-Star.
C Erick Dampier, center: Ineffective early coming back from shoulder surgery. Clogs up the middle and finishes with authority down low. When he produces solid numbers, the team almost always wins.
B Devin Harris, point guard: Career continues on upswing. When his jumper is falling, his penetration is nearly impossible to stop. Growing as a quarterback, but Avery Johnson has taken back most of the play-calling duties.
C Eddie Jones, shooting guard: The latest in the long line of options at shooting guard. The former All-Star built his reputation on solid perimeter defense and deadly outside shooting. Not that player anymore, but not asked to be.
B Jason Terry, guard: In his transition to sixth man, started the season on fire, but has cooled off some since. Outside shot remains is easily his greatest strength. Decision-making is sometimes suspect. Attitude is always positive.
C Jerry Stackhouse, guard: Averaging a career low in points, but opponents still respect his game. Has struggled beyond the arc, especially with his specialty of the last couple years, the corner 3. His intensity and fearlessness are his greatest assets.
B Brandon Bass, forward: Plays with ferocious energy at both ends, earning the nickname “Animal.” Size and athleticism come in handy against smaller teams, such as Phoenix and Golden State. Unsure at times on defense.
C Gana Diop, center: Starter early in the season before replaced by Dampier. Game revolves around rebounding and blocking shots. Offensive game hasn’t progressed as much as hoped. Confidence is an issue at times.
C Devean George, forward: Slowed by foot injury early, and has been in and out of the rotation. Ability to play both swing spots and power forward when team goes small. Only one in the locker room with championship rings.
Low-Minute Reserves (no grades)
• Juwan Howard, forward: Valuable frontline insurance. Knows the game and his role.
• Trenton Hassell, guard: Remains ready to contribute whenever number is called.
• JJ Barea, guard: Promising point guard has played a key role in a few wins.
• Mo Ager, guard: Couple spot starts early. Stuck at the end of swingman logjam.
• Nick Fazekas, forward: Working on game in D-League and has put up numbers.
B Avery Johnson: Inspirational leader who knows his X&O’s. Experimented with lineups early because of injuries and new personnel. Has kept the focus on building for the playoffs, but doesn’t just accept losing. Remains committed to his system and has tweaked his approach. Increased emphasis on strength-and-conditioning work in an effort to stay “stronger longer.” Team is once again battling for a top seed in the Western Conference.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Posted by Art Garcia at 12:29 AM