If you’ve followed the Dallas Mavericks for any decent amount of time, you know the TNT commentater Charles Barkley does not like them. No matter what they do, Charlie is quick to criticize and degrade them. Early this year, when the Mavs beat the Suns on opening night, Barkley criticized the Mavericks poor defense–even though they won. His biggest point was that the Mavs were switching on the pick-and-roll, which he said would never allow them to be a good defensive team.
Mark Cuban, in a recent blog entry, pointed me toward a great article that objectively looked at the effectiveness of the switch on the pick-and-roll. Kevin Pelton from 82games.com analyzed the Pistons’ defensive effectiveness against the Suns’ pick-amd-roll. Here’s a snippet from his article:
Commentator Doug Collins . . . noted at the 6:07 mark coming out of a timeout, “Remember what happened against Dallas – they started switching all those screens and the Suns got very stagnant.” Magic Johnson on “Inside the NBA” also noted that switching was key to the Pistons’ victory. Did anyone criticize Detroit coach Flip Saunders’ strategy or the validity of switching? Nope.
Here is where I think Cuban has a legitimate criticism of Barkley and Smith. Not that the numbers and charting do not help, but they’re not necessary to see whether a team’s pick-and-roll defense is working. But Barkley and Smith weren’t looking at Dallas’ defense with an objective eye; they were looking for evidence supporting their long-held contention that the Mavericks do not play enough defense to win a title. When a team known for its defense did the same thing, it didn’t fit Barkley’s and Smith’s storyline.
I’m glad someone has finally been able to prove that Charles Barkley is biased against Dallas. I don’t think this will change him, but I do know it proves what I’ve known for a long time.