- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Dallas Mavericks aren’t a historically great team, and they might not be the best team in the NBA this season.

The Mavericks (54-11), who slowed their pace from 70 wins to 68 last week, don’t measure up to other teams who won 68-plus and an NBA championship — the 1996 and 1997 Chicago Bulls, the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers and the 1967 Philadelphia 76ers.

Nor do they measure up to numerous title teams who won less than 68 games — the 1986 Boston Celtics, the 1971 Milwaukee Bucks, the 1983 76ers, the 1987 Lakers and the 1992 Bulls.

The best measure of dominance, along with wins, is average margin of victory.

The Mavericks’ average margin of victory is 8.0, second in the league to the San Antonio Spurs’ 8.1.The Phoenix Suns are third with 6.9.

The Mavericks’ margin of victory should translate to a 52-13 record, but they have overachieved.

The all-time leaders in this category are the 1972 Lakers (12.3), the 1996 Bulls (12.2), the 1971 Bucks (12.2), the 1972 Bucks (11.1), the 1997 Bulls (10.8) and the 1992 Bulls (10.4).

The Mavericks aren’t as dominant as some of those teams party because there are three dominant teams this season. Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio all are on pace for at least 57 wins. This is a similar situation to the early 1980s with the Lakers, Celtics and 76ers.

Another characteristic, albeit a more subjective one, that makes the Mavericks less than great is their lack of great players.

The 1972 Lakers had Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich. The 1996 Bulls had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. The 1971 Bucks had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.

The Mavericks have Dirk Nowitzki, one of the two best players in the league along with best friend Steve Nash.

They also have an excellent coach in Avery Johnson, who is 130-35 (.788) in his first two-plus seasons.

That’s a 65-win pace.

But Josh Howard made the All-Star team only after half of the Western Conference called in sick.

The rest of the team is ordinary. Jason Terry is solid at point guard, Jerry Stackhouse is a good sixth man and Erick Dampier and DeSagana Diop share time at center.

The Mavericks’ best quality is that they are a great offensive and defensive team this season. They score 109.1 points (second in the league) every 100 possessions and give up 100.1 (fifth). They also play the fourth-slowest pace in the league (92.0 possessions a game).

The Mavericks have a great chance to win the NBA championship but no more of a chance than the Suns or Spurs.

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