Barkley’s Analysis At Odds With Facts

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2012


If there’s one thing that Dallas Mavericks fans will forever equate TNT analyst Charles Barkley with, it is for being a perpetual Mavericks dissenter. For most of the entire decade that the Mavericks made the playoffs, he was outspoken in his brush-off of the Mavs as title contenders. Until last season, when he took the contrarious position of backing Dallas through the playoffs – in effect he was rolling the dice, if the Mavs lost, then he could simply fall back on ten years of mocking them, if the Mavs won, he would look like a Hoops Einstein.


He ended up with the last laugh, and Dallas fans immediately forgot all those years of torment and cheap shots from the Chuckster.


Well, it took less than a month in to this season for the ‘Round Mound of Throwing Stuff Against the Wall to degenerate in to the carnival barker role that he once held so prominently in the eyes of MFFLs.


After last Thursday night’s victory in Utah – never an easy place for visiting teams to play, especially on the second night of a West Coast back-to-back and the first game in which All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki was put on ice for a week – Barkley took aim at the Mavericks defense, specifically their interior players:


“They’re not the same team. They’re soft in the middle. They remind me of the pre-Tyson Chandler Mavericks where they just try to out-score you. They lost their two best defenders, Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson; they can’t replace those guys. I know people say their stats are better, but they’re not the same. They’re a smaller team.”


When I was watching Barkley deliver this “analysis,” I damn near jumped through the TV. The best part about it is that Barkley was the third of the Shaq/Kenny/Barkley trio to offer his take on the game, and the whole time O’Neal and Smith were talking, Charles had a handful of papers, assumed to be box scores and statistics, that he was pouring over with the intensity of a D student in an open book final exam, and like that incapable student, Barkley clearly had no idea what he was looking at.


He clearly never look things like statistics and empirical evidence – you know, WATCHING THE GAMES – get in the way of a good point.


Let’s take a look at the major points of his analysis:


  1. “They’re soft in the middle.”

Yes, losing Tyson Chandler in the off-season was a grave blow – one that most fans thought the Mavs would never be able to recover from – but the combination of Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi have been perhaps the biggest surprise in this unique season. A quick look at the numbers would suggest that this season’s center combo is nearly on par with last year’s (for a lot less money):


-Haywood and Mahinmi are averaging a combined 13.6 ppg, 11.6 rpg and 1.5 blocks. Chandler and Haywood averaged 14.5 ppg, 14.6 rpg and 2.1 blocks. That is nowhere near the drop-off that was anticipated, and definitely not the performance collapse that Barkley insinuates.


-The Mavericks are giving up 88.3 ppg this year, as opposed to 95.3 last season. Granted, scoring around the league is down roughly five points per game this year, but a difference of 7.0 ppg is noteworthy. By the way, they are ranked fourth in opponents scoring and FIRST overall in opponents field goal % (45.3% in 2012, 49.5% in 2010/11).


-Here’s the one that Chuck really needs to take not of: the current Mavericks rank second in the NBA in opponent’s points in the paint, giving up just 34.3 per game, after ranking 19th in the same stat last season (41.6).


  1. “They try to out-score you.”

This is laughable assertion. While the defense has been stellar, the Mavs’ offense this season has been deplorable. They are 22nd in the league in scoring (91.9 ppg); they are shooting a lowly 43.2% from the field (19th); they are 23rd in 3PT% (30.4%); they are shooting just 73.9% from the line (23rd). If Barkly was talking about the “pre-Chandler Mavs” from the 1990’s, he’d be on-point, but if he’s talking about any of the Cuban-era Dallas squads, he’s out to lunch. Bottom line, they are winning with their defense.


  1. “They can’t replace Stevenson and Chandler.”

Numbers-wise, defensively, they’re putting up better stats than last year. Offensively, newcomers Delonte West and, in effect, Mahinmi, are outscoring Stevenson and Chandler 16.6 ppg to 15.4 ppg.


Finally, to really refute Barkley’s lame-brained observation, the Mavericks are currently on a franchise-record fifteen-game streak of holding their opponents under 100 points (eleven of the games under 90 points).


Look a little more closely Charles, you’d be amazed at what you might discover.

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