<
>

Mavs' all-time starting five

To celebrate the storied histories of the franchises in the Finals, ESPN.com let fans pick the all-time starting five for the Celtics and Lakers.

My immediate thought was, man, this wouldn't be nearly as fun with the Mavericks.

But it's not like we've got much better things to do while we wait for the NBA offseason to officially start. So here's one man's opinion on the best players at each position in Mavs less-than-legendary history:

POINT GUARD

Candidates: Jason Kidd, Devin Harris, Steve Nash, Derek Harper, Brad Davis

The nod here goes to Derek Harper despite the fact that he never played in an All-Star Game. This is based solely on contributions to the Mavs, so Kidd’s prime years and Nash’s two MVP seasons weren’t considered. Longevity gives the edge to Harper, who holds the franchise career records for assists and steals. Harper also averaged 14.4 points per game during his Dallas tenure, a tick below Nash’s average in a Mavs uniform. Of course, if Mark Cuban and Co. didn’t let Nash return to the desert, this would be a no-contest.

SHOOTING GUARD

Candidates: Jason Terry, Michael Finley, Rolando Blackman

This is the best debate of the bunch. Blackman and Finley were cornerstones of eras when the Mavs went from one of the league’s worst teams to winners. Finley’s regular-season numbers with the Mavs (19.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg) are slightly better than Blackman’s (19.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg). Blackman was a more efficient scorer and made four All-Star appearances, twice as many as Finley. And Blackman’s numbers went up in the postseason, when Finley’s went down a notch. I’ll go with Ro.

SMALL FORWARD

Candidates: Josh Howard, Jamal Mashburn, Mark Aguirre

Like Howard, Aguirre’s time in Dallas had too much drama toward the end and ended with a trade after he got on bad terms with the team. But Aguirre was by far a better player. He averaged 24.6 points per game with the Mavs, including a franchise-record 29.5 in 1983-84. A strong case can be made that No. 24 ought to be in the AAC rafters.

POWER FORWARD

Candidates: Dirk Nowitzki, Roy Tarpley, Sam Perkins

This is a no-brainer, which is also an accurate way to refer to X-ray results from Tarpley’s head. Who knows how great Tarpley could have been if he kept his nose clean? Dirk is without a doubt the best player in franchise history, having set all sorts of franchise record while building his Hall of Fame resume. There haven’t been many power forwards in NBA history better than Dirk.

CENTER

Candidates: Erick Dampier, Shawn Bradley, James Donaldson

Not exactly Mikan/Chamberlain/Kareem/Shaq, huh? One-time All-Star James Donaldson, who averaged 8.8 points and 9.5 rebounds during his Dallas tenure, is the default winner.