Mavericks basketball is back! We made it! We’ll finally get to see the Dallas Mavericks again. Their first scrimmage game is July 23rd against the Los Angeles Lakers. They’ll have three scrimmages before the season restart begins.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Mavericks play. You might have forgotten about some key storylines and developments. Here’s everything you need to know about the Dallas Mavericks before the NBA restart. This will help you get up to speed on all things Mavs.
1. Roster Updates
First things first, who’s in and who’s out?
In: J.J. Barea, Trey Burke, Antonius Cleveland, Seth Curry, Luka Doncic, Dorian Finney-Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., Justin Jackson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Maxi Kleber, Boban Marjanovic, Kristaps Porzingis, Josh Reaves, Delon Wright
After Dwight Powell suffered a season-ending Achilles injury, Kristaps Porzingis played Center. That allowed the Mavericks to play a “5-out” offense, something Mavs fans had been eager to see.
Here is the Mavericks’ assumed starting lineup for the season restart:
- PG: Luka Doncic
- SG: Seth Curry
- SF: Tim Hardaway Jr.
- PF: Dorian Finney-Smith
- C: Kristaps Porzingis
That lineup offers a deadly mix of shooting, spacing, and interior defense.
Among Mavs lineups that played 50 or more minutes together, that lineup was 5th in Net Rating, 4th in Defensive Rating, and 2nd in Offensive Rating. That group averaged an insane 120.7 points per 100 possessions.
Speaking of offense…
2. Historically Good Offense
The Mavericks put on an offensive clinic in almost every game. This team may go down as having the best offense in franchise history and, possibly, in NBA history.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Mavericks had an Offensive Rating of 116.7. That’s number one in NBA history. It’s better than the 73-win Golden State Warriors, the 72-win Chicago Bulls, and the ‘87 Showtime Lakers – better than anyone.
The great thing about their offense is that it’s steady. Many high-octane offenses rely on quick shots and fast-break plays.
That often doesn’t work in the Playoffs.
The Mavericks, on the other hand, were 18th in Pace this season. That steady, methodical offense should serve them well in the Playoffs.
However, their offense wasn’t always great…
3. Clutch Problems
It wasn’t all good this year. The Mavericks have several young players. That usually means one thing – problems executing in clutch situations.
That historically great offense? The one that’s best in the league and it’s not even close? That drops to 29th in the league in the clutch.
Opponents were shooting nearly 43% against the Mavericks in clutch situations and were making more than 35% of their 3-pointers.
For the record, I don’t expect this problem to be solved this season, but I also don’t think it’s worth grabbing our pitchforks over. It did get extremely frustrating to see the same mistakes over and over, but it’s a typical problem young teams have. They’ll grow out of it.
In the 2010 season, where those rankings are from, the Thunder were 21-24 in clutch games. That’s 3 games under .500. The Mavericks are currently 8-12 in those games – 4 games under .500.— Sydney Myers (@_sydneymyers) January 9, 2020
So the Mavs might have a fun year, finish with 50 wins, and still be bad in the clutch.
4. Making the Luka-Kristaps Dynamic Work
No surprise, the Luka-Kristaps dynamic wasn’t completely smooth right out of the gate. We often wondered how Rick Carlisle could get Kristaps more involved or how Luka and Kristaps could best complement each other.
It takes time for two stars to learn how to play together. It seemed like Luka and Kristaps were just learning how to do that when the season was put on hold.
We’ll see if their time in the bubble has helped to rekindle that chemistry.
Here’s a podcast episode after one of their best games together. We break down the blueprint for the Luka-KP duo.
Even with a few rough spots, there was one thing you never had to worry about…
5. Luka Doncic for MVP?
Remember when Luka Doncic averaged a 30-point triple-double for an entire month? That was in November 2019 when Luka had fresh legs and a summer of work behind him.
He came back a little closer to earth as the season went on, but he was still in the MVP conversation for much of it.
You could argue that we’ll get November Luka again. He had a few months off during the hiatus that gave him time to work on his game and his body. The difference now is that he has had more time with his teammates than he did before.
He was top 10 in points and assists, averaging 28.7 points, 8.7 assists, and 9.3 rebounds. He had the highest offensive rating among players who played more than 50 games and was third in Usage Percentage.
He’ll be a problem for opponents. Unless that opponent can execute what has been the Mavericks’ kryptonite…
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6. Struggles Against Physical Defense
Despite having a great offense, the Mavericks struggled against physical defense. It seemed as if some teams went out of their way to beat up on Luka. It didn’t help that the referees appeared to let it happen.
You might recall several games where Luka was pushed around, thrown to the ground, and fouled on shots at the rim, but the refs held their whistle.
It got very frustrating.
The Mavericks were 15th in the league in free throw attempts per game despite being 9th in field goal attempts on drives and 8th in field goal attempts 5-9 feet from the basket.
I hope that trend doesn’t continue.
Here’s a recap podcast episode after a particularly frustrating game. It’s a good refresher of what Luka was dealing with.
Besides that, there was an even bigger question mark hanging over the Mavericks going into the season…
7. Kristaps’ Recovery From a Torn ACL
Before the season, there were question marks about Kristaps Porzingis. He was coming off a torn ACL and hadn’t played basketball in almost two years.
I looked at data from 69 players who tore their ACL to see if I could use it to predict Kristaps’ production this season. Turns out, the data helped me make a pretty accurate prediction.
- 32 minutes
- 19 points
- 9 rebounds
- 1.5 blocks
- 42 FG%,
- 35 3PT%
- 31.3 minutes
- 19.2 points
- 9.5 rebounds
- 2.1 blocks
- 42 FG%,
- 34.9 3PT%
The point is that Kristaps’ production is totally what you would expect from a guy returning from a torn ACL.
Yes, 19.2 points is lower than his previous average of 23, but there’s nothing to worry about. His numbers might be even better now that he’s had more time to rehab and work on his body.
And they’re going to need a healthy Kristaps Porzingis because he helps in one area where they really struggled…
8. Bad Defense
Ok, so remember how great the Mavs’ offense was? Well, their defense, at times, was as bad as their offense was good. Their defense was bad. That’s what I’m trying to say.
They were 17th in Defensive Rating before the hiatus, according to NBA Stats. The Chicago Bulls had a better Defensive Rating and they were 22-43, for crying out loud.
Now, things had been trending up. In March, the Mavericks were 4th in Defensive Rating. After Dwight Powell was injured, Kristaps played more at Center. That helped their rim protection and post defense. However, their offense took a bit of a dip during that time. Their Offensive Rating in March was 16th, according to NBA Stats.
In general, don’t expect stellar defense when we see the Mavericks again.
Those are the important things you need to know about the Dallas Mavericks before the NBA season restart. Overall, the season had been promising so far. There were plenty of frustrating moments, but we’re still in the early phases of growing a team.
Share this with other Mavs fans who could find it useful! And let me know what your predictions are for the Mavericks as the 2019-2020 season finally reaches its climax.