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What if I told you… the entire landscape of the NBA changed because of Shark Tank?What if I told you… the Dallas Mavericks became a DeAndre Jordan-led championship contender, on the back of one Mark Cuban-absent meeting just a few short summers ago?
It could've, would've been oh-so-different had Cuban simply skirted his ABC entrepreneurial obligations and decided to meet with Deron Williams way back in 2012, thus rendering the Mavs' cap space null-and-void well into 2016. Instead, Williams took his talents to the Hova-Nets, Donnie Nelson found a way to keep Dallas playoff-relevant in the years that followed (thank you, O.J. Mayo, Vince Carter, and Monta Ellis), and the King Shark eventually, finally, found his franchise-changer, and the perfect compliment (and subsequent Mavs-of-the-future torchbearer) for Dirk Nowitzki.
And $80 million later, welcome back to Texas, DeAndre Jordan. Thanks for the messages, Jerry Jones and Dez Bryant. Big ups for bailing on your family-vacay early, Dirk. And yes, The German gets the biggest assist for his absurder-by-the-second two-year, $17 million extension through 2017 that made this all possible.Now, Doc Rivers will rue helping turn Jordan into the All-NBA Third Team player before signing him to a max-contract. And the Clippers will hope and pray that the Blake Show starring at center can usher in the New New NBA, where centers are obsolete, forever and always.The Mavs? They very well could contend for their second banner in this window, so long as the 37-year-old Dirk can maintain the 19.26 PER level he had last year.
Does Dallas have problems filling out their roster by relying on Devin Harris at point, and banking on Justin Anderson, Richard Jefferson and J.J. Barea to be bench saviors? Sure. Are they are completely and entirely reliant on the respective health of Chandler Parsons' microfracture-repaired knee and Wes Matthews' achilles next season? No doubt.But no matter: a Dirk-D.J.-Wes-Parsons foursome is tailor-made for a 2011 title-run redux in the NBA's current form (lest we forget DeShawn Stevenson starting at two-guard on that team, now with D.J. spearheading Tyson Chandler's old role). They also could end up being an attractive midseason fit for veteran shooters like Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis. And better still, the Mavs are suddenly in the conversation as a destination for the Kevin Durants of the world in the soon-to-be historic summer of 2016 and beyond. How quickly the chatter of Cuban's waning midas touch silenced after pulling Jordan's Cowboy-loving heart strings to prove himself an ever-shrewd and cold-blooded capitalist.
"We think he is going to be our best player for years to come," Cubes told ESPN.com via CyberDust. "A franchise player for the rest of his career."Bold words? Yes. Patently untrue? Not at all. For starters, Jordan is only 26, and offers first-class rim-protection abilities in the NBA's second-most important skillset (the league still lives and dies by the three). Not to mention, his lack of needing touches offensively vastly encourages ball-movement and roster happiness elsewhere; would it be ridiculous to assume that Griffin's expanded shooting arsenal and well-rounded out-the-paint game was rapidly accelerated by Jordan's grunt work?Meanwhile, his FG percentage has improved in four straight seasons (63.2 to 71.0 last year), and his 11.5 PPG in 2014-15 offer a huge margin for an uptick, especially if and when Rick Carlisle's magical offense manufactures a couple extra lobs a game. Imagine how anyone guards DJ-Dirk corner-three pick-and-rolls?And remember last year's pre-Rajon Dallas team was a most deadly and championship-caliber scoring machine, despite Ellis' ball-stopping tendencies.
Exhibit A in the ol' bald-coach's free-flowing systemic mastery could be seen in Brandan Wright's absurd efficiency. Wright averaged 9 PPG in his final two seasons with the Mavs, including an outrageous 74.8-percent shooting percentage in 27 games before leaving for Boston; which appears less of an aberration next to Wright's 67.7-percent mark in 58 games in 2013-14. That bodes extremely well for Jordan sustaining a 70-percent clip (or better) will taking more shots going forward.
And sure, defensively, it is no secret that Jordan's rim-protecting is a tad overrated. But the ex-Clip's looming presence as a defensive rebounder is a franchise-changer juxtaposed against the boarding liabilities of the Chandler-Dirk forward pairing.Not to mention, Jordan possesses the ever-important skill of being able to switch far more capably on high pick-and-rolls—Steph Curry's bread-and-butter in the Finals—than any Western Conference center not named Serge Ibaka. That, plus his rim-cover for Nowitzki against the same poison greatly masks the Mavs' most glaring end-of-game defensive weakness.And sure, Jordan remains a historically atrocious free throw shooter. But the Clippers were still 12-0 during the regular season when Jordan attempted 14 or more free throws.The likely message from Cuban, Carlisle, Dirk and the rest of Dallas? Bring the Hack-A on. Try and figure out any other way to stop us.(And thank god for Shark Tank).