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Giannis' Bucks: The Blueprint For Luka's Mavs and NBA Title?

Whitt's End: Granted, the Mavs don’t have Giannis Antetokounmpo. But they do possess a superstar in Luka Doncic who can also win postseason games by himself. So, what to do next?

Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 7.23.21…

*A competitive, well-played NBA Finals reminded us just how far the Dallas Mavericks have to go before again competing for a title. Or, for that matter, breaking their 10-year drought of not winning a single playoff series.

Granted, the Mavs don’t have Giannis Antetokounmpo. But they do possess a superstar in Luka Doncic who can also win postseason games by himself. That’s not the problem. What the Milwaukee Bucks have – and the Mavs do not – is multiple players with varied skill-sets that allowed them different ways to win games.

Khris Middleton dominated by scoring 40 points or, as in Game 6 of The Finals, smothering the Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker on defense. And if his 3-pointer wasn’t falling, he went to his lethal mid-range game or even scored on low-post moves. Same with Jrue Holiday, who blitzed Phoenix by scoring from every area of the court but also coming up with the series’ biggest play – the steal of Booker at the end of Game 5. As scintillating as Doncic can be, he simply doesn’t have the necessary help.

Try as they might over the last decade, the Mavs’ DNA is still a finesse team founded upon 3-pointers. But if Tim Hardaway Jr.’s pretty jumper is off, there is no reliable Plan B. Same with Kristaps Porzingis, who at 7-foot-3 only posted-up a handful times in the playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Mavs obviously can’t clone Giannis. But the new regime would be smart to at least attempt to duplicate the Bucks’ flexible blueprint.

*One day I was interviewing Jerry Jones at Dallas Cowboys’ training camp in Oxnard. With sentimental pauses and a tear welling in his eye, Jones told me how much getting back to the Super Bowl meant.

“Look at me,” he said. “Let’s get real now … I don’t have a lot of time, to not have a good time.”

The year was 2011, and Jones was 68. Now, after another lost decade of his team not sniffing an NFC Championship Game much less a Super Bowl, you can understand why Jones was so emotional in his Cowboys’ state-of-the-union press conference Wednesday in California. By the time the 2021 season ends, he’ll be 79. The last time his Cowboys lifted the trophy he was 54.

*In seven weeks the Cowboys will open against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (That is, unless one of the teams has to forfeit because of a COVID outbreak amongst unvaccinated players.) It’s a marquee matchup that will kick off the NFL season and generate a year’s worth of hype.

Truth? It’s one of Dallas’ least important games of the season.

The Cowboys get treated to a Super Bowl scheduling sandwich, playing the Bucs in Week 1 and the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11. But it’s the eight games between that will shape the season. Good news: None of those eight opponents had a winning record in 2020. After likely starting 0-1, the Cowboys play the Chargers (7-9), Eagles (4-11-1), Panthers (5-11), Giants (6-10), Patriots (7-9), Vikings (7-9), Broncos (5-11) and Falcons (4-12).

Basically between Labor Day and Thanksgiving the Cowboys will play only realistically winnable football games.

READ MORE: Lawrence, Cooper Begin Training Camp on PUP List

*Your Texas Rangers have officially bottomed out. At least we hope so. Although, considering where they’ve been since the All-Star break, scoring five runs in a loss in Detroit Thursday afternoon is progress.

The Rangers, who fashioned a lineup with no player sporting a batting average above .264, were outscored by unfathomable 43-3 during a five-game stretch stuffed inside their current nine-game losing streak. They have scored only 379 runs, fewest in the American League.

In 2020 the Cowboys had their worst defense in franchise history. In 2021, the Rangers just may be suffering their all-time most anemic offense.

*It’s 2012 and 105.3 The Fan opens a fancy pants sports bar adjacent to American Airlines Center, The Fan Sports Lounge. We host shows from a studio inside, including a Monday Night Football pre-game show. One night our guest is former Cowboy Deion Sanders. Before the show, a guy in his posse calls to see if the bar can set up a private table for Deion and his entourage. Not out of the ordinary. Done. But Deion shows up with what was at least 10 people. After his 10-minute interview with us, the group stayed, watched the game, ate, drank and ate and drank some more, ringing up a tab of around $700.

When the game ended, Deion and his posse skedaddled, leaving a $0 tip and – swear – no money at all.

Now you know why I wasn’t surprised when Deion, now head coach at Jackson State, walked out of a press conference this week when a reporter referred to him as “Deion.” He thinks he deserves the respect afforded six-time national champion Nick Saban. He thinks he – and his – should be given an open tab.

Deion will always reside near the top of my special list: The Worst People/Best Athletes in DFW history.

*Part of the Bucks’ first NBA title in 50 years is the end of a long wait for a former Dallas Maverick. Ted Davis worked radio at Denton’s KDNT and Dallas’ KVIL and was the radio play-by-play voice of the Mavs from 1989-97 on KLIF. After yacking about some of the leanest years in franchise history, he left for Milwaukee and called Bucks’ games for 24 seasons before finally getting to be the soundtrack for a championship Tuesday night.

Davis, now 70, boomed: “Wisconsin, we’ve got a room at the top of the world tonight!” Good for him.

*For those of you all warm-’n-fuzzy impressed by an 82-year-old woman riding the Blue Origin rocket for 11 minutes into space this week in Texas, how gaga must you be to learn that a 73-year-old woman climbed Mount Everest? I submit to you that physically walking up a 29,000-foot mountain is a tad more astonishing than just say, sitting in a chair going 66 miles straight up.

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*So Texas and Oklahoma are essentially done with small living in the suddenly-not-so-Big 12. They reportedly sent letters to the conference saying they will leave – hopefully for the SEC - when the contract is up in … 2025. Imagine telling your wife you’re leaving her, but living in the same house and co-existing while the divorce paperwork is finalized in four years! 

If Texas and OU indeed have one boot out the door - we've got tons of coverage on the move here - the Big 12 will become the lamest of ducks.

*Hot.

*Not.

*Brad Sham is in Oxnard attending his 42nd training camp. When the iconic voice speaks about the Cowboys, quiet down and listen up.

*With quirky hair and buttoned-up collars, I’m not by any stretch a fashionista. But, um, I do know which end is up. I don’t get the bald-head-but-bushy-beard look. At all. I mean, do these people and their upside-down perspectives also wear pants on their arms, shoes on their hands and shirts wrapped around their shins?

READ MORE: Media Analyst Tabs Week 1 Visit to Bucs as "Must win"

*Waaaaay early odds for the 2022 NBA champion make the Brooklyn Nets the favorites at 3-1. Mavs come in at 25-1, 10th-best.

*Giannis produced one of the more remarkable turnarounds I’ve seen in NBA Playoff history. No, it wasn’t the fact he recovered from what initially appeared to be a season-ending knee hyperextension injury in the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s that he shot 62 percent from the free-throw line in the Finals and had games where he made 13 of 17 and, in the clincher, an astounding 17 of 19.

Early in the playoffs he was a cringe-worthy, time-exceeding air-baller. By the end, he was Dirk Nowitzki.

*Hard pass on The Olympics. Just a dirty money-grab for IOC members and a chance for corporate sponsors to remind us– ad nauseum – how “woke” they are by exploiting American gymnast Simone Biles.

*If you should decide to watch the Summer Games, check out half of what might be DFW’s most athletic family. Melissa Gonzalez will represent Colombia in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. She also happens to be the wife of Detroit Lions’ quarterback David Blough. The couple meet while attending Carrollton’s Creekview High School.

*Having drinks in a bar with a group this week when a woman at the table wanted to check on her dog. Clicked on the app that displayed her doggie cam and … “Awwwww, he’s sleeping!! Isn’t that uh-door-uh-blllllle?!” No, not really. Everybody – everything – sleeps. It would be far more uh-door-uh-blllllle if the pooch was folding laundry and starting to make dinner. How have dogs pulled this mind-magic on humans that we’re now super excited and entertained when they’re merely taking a nap? Because I want to learn to do it.

*Jones promises “I’d do anything known to man to get to a Super Bowl.” Anything? Really? Let’s test him.

Would he re-hire Jimmy Johnson? Would he force his players to be 100-percent vaccinated? Would he – and this is the biggie – fire his general manager?

Didn’t think so. “Anything” is draped in caveats.

*Considering they're the fourth-worst team in baseball it ain't happening, but if the Pittsburgh Pirates would win the World Series we'd have Bucs, Bucks and Bucs as champs in the three major sports.

*Cowboys’ head coach Mike McCarthy’s reaction when Jones called to inform him about Hard Knocks: “I’m just going to be honest: I about wrecked my truck … ”

McCarthy knows – same as Dave Campo found out in 2002 – that HBO’s intrusive cameras won’t help the Cowboys win a single game. In fact, it might contribute to a loss. But don’t tell that to Jones. Or, for that matter, series star-in-waiting Jaylon Smith.

*Remember all those fed-up fans that were “done with the NBA until the players respect our flag”? They’re back watching. NBA Finals Game 6 was the league’s highest-rated game since 2019 and the No. 5 (non-football) sporting event since COVID shut sports down in March 2020.

*RANGERS RISK: We all think the Texas Rangers are going to be putrid this season. Our lil’ roundtable revealed predicted win totals of anywhere between 61 and 78, but no one thinks .500 is plausible. Let’s put our money where our mouth is. I’m going to bet a virtual $100 against the Rangers every game this season and, after six months and 162 games, see where I wind up. I’ll keep a running tab right there each Friday and come September I’ll (wink) disperse my profits to my most loyal readers. RECORD: 35-62 TOTAL: +$1,059.

*Ezekiel Elliott turned 26 Thursday. Shrouded by the team’s failure, 2019’s contract holdout and last season’s fumbling yips, we forget how good he was (is?). Zeke’s 8,341 yards before his 26th birthday are the NFL’s third-most all-time behind only two pretty decent runners: Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton.

READ MORE: Zeke Lightens His Load at Camp

*This Weekend? Saturday let’s hang out with Big Brothers Big Sister lil’ bro Ja. Sunday let’s play some tennis and begin the countdown to football. As always, don’t be a stranger.