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Daily Babble: The Most Troubling Flaw of the Mavs' (Prospective) Deal for Jason Kidd

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Author's Note: This column was originally scheduled to run as "Daily Babble: The Most Troubling Flaw of the Mavs' Deal for Jason Kidd.  That would be because at some point on Wednesday evening, Jason Kidd was believed to be a member of the Dallas Mavericks for all but certain.  Shortly thereafter, Devean George got involved and at least temporarily nixed the deal.  However, so far as we understand it, the trade is most likely to be salvaged in the very near future, and as such, we proceed with our explanation of the major concern that should surround the potential move for Dallas.  Without further ado, we present to you "Daily Babble: The Most Troubling Flaw of the Mavs' (Prospective) Deal for Jason Kidd.

Sadly for those in Dallas, there is a catch beyond Jason Kidd's age to the latest NBA blockbuster, and the source of that catch doesn't even play so many as 20 minutes per game.

From virtually every other angle, the Kidd move looks like a good one for the Mavs.  They keep their core intact.  For the present and immediate future, they get a man who in spite of his advancing age remains one of the game's premier point guards -- far more so than Devin Harris -- and who will be able to function with efficacy no matter what pace the Mavs play.

Jerry Stackhouse is likely to be bought out by the Nets, those speculating about Stack being 'snatched up' by suitors around the league in the 30-day waiting period before he can return to Dallas may want to check out what the man himself has had to say about the matter, as reported by ESPN:

"I feel great. I get 30 days to rest, then I'll be right back," he said. "I ain't going nowhere."

That far, all besides worrying about Kidd's advancing age over the next couple of seasons sounds good for Dallas.  And that age issue is a risk teams take when they want to make a push for a championship.

Ah, the risks teams take when pushing for a title.  One of the risks they don't take is dealing away their top interior defender.  Especially when those teams are likely worried about matching up with the likes of Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal come playoff time.

Even though he plays just 17.4 minutes per game, DeSagana Diop is exactly that guy for the Dallas Mavericks.

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All of Steve's daily posts can be found in the CelticsBlog: NBA

One of the biggest changes in the Dallas Mavericks' identity in recent seasons has been their commitment to improving defensively.  Once the model of run-and-gun-sans-D before the Suns and Warriors, the Mavs have taken great steps under Avery Johnson to become a more efficient team at both ends of the floor.  They have slowed to the game's 26th quickest pace and have become extremely efficient at the offensive end of the floor (2nd in all of basketball).  Although they have dropped off a bit this season at the other end, the Mavs still sit at 13th in the league in defensive efficiency with a fairly effective 107.5 points allowed per 100 possessions.

DeSagana Diop is a big part of how the Mavs have managed to stay that high in the rankings.  He is a terrific rebounder (5.2 in his 17.4 minutes per game, putting him on pace for 11.9 boards per 40 minutes) and a ferocious shot-blocker (1.3 blocks per game, 2.8 per 40 minutes).  The 7-foot, 280-pound Diop has an immense wingspan and moves better than expected for a man of his physical stature.  He has the size to match with nearly any non-Yao post player in the league and the strength and skill to get the job done inside.  Further, his presence on the interior does quite a bit to alter shots and deter opponents from even taking several more per game.

Team defensive success is by no means a definitive indicator of an individual's impact, but the numbers are extreme in the case of Diop and his 'mates in the Dallas frontcourt.   With Erick Dampier on the court, the Mavs (who, again, have a team defensive efficiency of 107.5) have a defensive efficiency rating of 108.1 (points allowed per 100 possessions, of course), compared to 106.1 when he is off the floor.  That makes them two points worse defensively with Dampier on the floor than off.  The Mavs' are 1.3 points per 100 possessions worse with Brandon Bass on the floor than off.

Meanwhile, when Diop is seated on the bench, the Mavs give up a whopping 109.1 points per 100 possessions.  When he is on the floor, that number drops to 102.8, a difference of over six points per 100 possessions.  Nobody else on the Mavs even comes close to maintaining a figure along those lines.

That isn't a coincidence.  When Diop is on the floor, he guards the opponent's best post player, and he wreaks havoc in the midst of the lane.  He really made his name two seasons ago when he put the clamps on Tim Duncan in overtime of the Mavs' thrilling series-clinching win in San Antonio in the second round (Duncan scored 41 points in this game but went just 1-for-7 in overtime and had a shot blocked by Diop with the large Mav guarding him for the entire extra frame after starter Dampier fouled out).  He is by far the best answer this Dallas team had to the likes of Duncan, O'Neal, Stoudemire, Yao, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and the rest of the West's bigs.  When the games slow down in the playoffs and big man play becomes an even greater determinant of outcomes, Diop's importance would have only grown, as would his minutes.   In a deep Western in which multiple rivals have gained size over the past two weeks, Diop's presence would have been crucial to the Mavs' prospects for success in the postseason.

Instead, the Dallas Mavericks look like they will get to make their run at the trophy this season with a great point guard but without their most important piece of playoff basketball's most important factor: interior defense.  And that could hurt them far more than many expect.