Mail delivery is a little late this week -- blame my self-inflicted technical issues, aka accidentally smashing my laptop -- so let's get right to the questions.
@mrana85 on Twitter: Does Monta Ellis, in fact, have it all?
“Monta Ellis have it all” was one of the best soundbites of last season, and it’s still not true. But give Ellis credit for being coachable and coach Rick Carlisle credit for putting Ellis in position to play to his strengths.
Ellis does not have a great 3-point stroke. That’s evident from his 31.9 career percentage from long range. It’s notable that he’s attempting his fewest 3-pointers per game since 2008-09.
Ellis is a phenomenal pick-and-roll initiator, and that’s become the bread and butter of the Mavs’ offense with magnificent results. There are precious few players as dangerous off the dribble, and Ellis has shown that his passing ability has been underrated while he’s played for bad teams over the years. He arrived in Dallas with a reputation as an inefficient gunner, but Ellis has been awesome offensively, averaging a team-high 23.5 points and 5.3 assists while shooting 49.6 percent from the floor.
Oh, and Ellis will never have good size for a shooting guard. That often makes life difficult for him as a defender, especially against bigger shooting guards such as Houston’s James Harden or Minnesota’s Kevin Martin.
But Ellis has rare explosiveness and ability to create, and the Mavs are getting the most out of his best attributes.
@Simeon_Benson on Twitter: Is Dirk's inevitable extension going to be more like Kobe's or Duncan's?
Dirk Nowitzki’s next deal won’t come close to Kobe Bryant’s two-year, $48.5 million extension in terms of salary.
My hunch is that it will be in the neighborhood of the team-friendly, three-year, $36 million deals Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett signed a couple of years ago. However, I could see Dirk taking less than that if Mark Cuban can add players worthy of the face of the franchise sacrificing some money to create room under the salary cap.
@KirkSeriousFace on Twitter: Vince Carter's stats (mainly his 3 pt %) have taken a major hit so far. Is he in a slump or was last year an outlier?
Let’s give Carter the benefit of the doubt and call it a slump. He’s a career 37.6 percent shooter from 3-point range who was close to a career at 40.6 percent last season. Carter is only 22-of-65 (33.8 percent) from 3-point range so far this season, but it’s early. He’s one hot streak away from getting back to his norm. I think he’ll be in the high 30s by the end of the season, if for no other reason than I think he’ll consistently get good looks due to the other weapons on this team drawing attention.
@BrockLPrice on Twitter: Do you see the Mavs making the playoffs, and if so, what seed?
I’m more confident that the Mavs will make the playoffs than I was at the beginning of the season, but I still see them fighting with a handful of other teams for one of the West’s final few spots.
I see the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets as locks. The Portland Trail Blazers (13-2) are off to an outstanding start, but I think they’ll be part of a pack with the Mavs, Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and maybe the Lakers battling for the last few spots, with the New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns playing the role of on-the-rise sleepers.
@pickandpop21 on Twitter: What adjustments should the Mavs take to improve defense? Or will they just have to live by their O & hope that's enough?
There’s a reason that Carlisle harps so much on things like “disposition” and “competitive energy.” The Mavs need great effort and intensity, as well as togetherness, to make up for their personnel flaws on defense. The scheme isn’t the problem. The personnel is, but the Mavs can still be a decent defensive team if they pay great attention to detail and make it a priority.
@Scollier2826 on Twitter: Are the Mavs in talks with Boston about Rajon Rondo?
Their talks this summer consisted of a feeling-out phone call and Celtics GM Danny Ainge asking for Dirk, which was his way of telling the Mavs to take a hike. If the Celtics shop Rondo, I’m sure the Mavs will be interested, but it’s hard to see how they could put together a package attractive enough to get the Celtics to pull the trigger unless Boston’s motivation is to dump as much long-term money as possible.