Mavs mailbag: Dirk still a legit superstar?

DALLAS -- A couple of the wins weren’t works of art and the loss was awfully ugly, but the Mavericks just finished a 4-1 run in a span of seven days.

Suddenly, they’re alone in seventh place in the West as the midseason point approaches.

The prospects for a playoff appearance are pretty bright. A playoff run? Well, let’s not get too carried away quite yet. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

On to your questions ...

@coffeesodabeer on Twitter: If Dirk is still a legitimate superstar, why aren't the Mavs as good as they were in 2008-2010?

Are the Mavs really that far off from what they were from 2008-10? They averaged 52 wins and won one playoff series in that three-season span. They’re on pace for 48 wins now.

I’d say that parallels pretty well with the decline in Dirk’s game. He doesn’t play as many minutes (roughly five fewer per game) and readily acknowledges that he can’t be as consistently dominant as he used to be. He’s also not nearly as good a rebounder as he was five years ago.

But we’re talking about a dude who ranks 14th in the league in scoring with 21.2 points per game, ninth in Player Efficiency Rating (23.77) and has a legitimate chance to have the 11th 50/40/90 season in NBA history. (That’s 50 percent field goal shooting, 40 percent 3-point shooting and 90 percent free throw shooting.)

We can get into a semantics discussion about what a superstar is, but I don’t believe you will find a coach in the league who would say Dirk has dropped out of that class.

@JohnnyPablo_ on Twitter: Can the Mavs make an impact if they reach the playoffs or are we looking for a first-round exit?

It’s hard to envision a scenario in which the Mavs can make it out of the first round.

Perhaps they’d have a puncher’s chance against Portland, a team that has precious little playoff experience. That’d probably be the best possible first-round matchup for the Mavs, assuming they aren’t going to be able to move up from the seventh seed.

San Antonio or Oklahoma City? The Spurs or Thunder could very well be busting out the brooms. The Mavs are 1-12 against OKC since the title run, including a sweep in the 2012 first round. The Spurs have a seven-game winning streak against the Mavs, including four blowouts.

@EddieJimenez on Twitter: Would Kevin Love to Dallas be a good idea? Or even slightly possible?

Sure, it’d be a good idea to get arguably the best power forward in the league. You can figure out how it’d work with Dirk after the fact.

Possible? At least slightly, although not this season. But Love can opt out of his contract after next season. The Mavs very well could be financially positioned to offer him a max contract. If the Timberwolves decide to deal Love before he can become a free agent, it’s tough to envision the Mavs being able to offer a package that would be good enough.

Danny (Austin): Thoughts on Monta Ellis' unspectacular WS/48, PER numbers?

OK, now we’re getting to the geeky stuff. Ellis had earned a reputation for being an analytics anti-hero, so can’t be considered surprising that his win shares per 48 minutes and Player Efficiency Rating aren’t sparkling.

But they’re much better than his career norms. He’s ranked 57th in the league in PER at 18.11, which is the third best season of his career. His WS/48 (.095) is the second best of his career and .021 above his norm.

Ellis still isn’t an advanced stats darling, but his geek numbers look a lot better than they have in recent seasons.

Marc (Flower Mound): It's clear that rebounding and interior defense are major issues for this team. We all know our guards aren't going to stop anyone from getting into the paint. So do you foresee any scenario that the Mavs go after a legitimate 5 before the trade deadline?

This is why the Mavs have expressed exploratory interest in bringing Andrew Bynum to Dallas on a minimum deal. How else are they going to upgrade the center position? We can discuss different proposals for Omer Asik, but the Rockets really don’t want to deal him to the Western Conference, so that’s probably a waste of breath.

Grant (Arlington): Have the Mavericks shown any interest in bringing Devin Ebanks up from the development league? Although Jae Crowder was big last night, scoring 14 points, he is only averaging 5.7 ppg and shooting 35 percent from deep. Doesn't seem like much of a risk in bringing Ebanks up to get some minutes and see what he can do in the big leagues.

Ebanks will probably get called up soon, just not by the Mavs. They don’t own his rights, so they’d have to cut someone with a guaranteed contract to add Ebanks to the roster. Crowder has carved out a role because of his defense.