This last week we’ve been taking a look back and forward with the season already a quarter over. It’s been a crazy season already with some excellent highs and frustrating lows. With that in mind, a simple question for the staff:
Which thing or things are most concerning to you as Dallas works to improve on their .500 record?
Doyle: Going forward, the Mavericks have to improve on the road. Almost across the board, the team’s stats drop when they play on the road. The result of that is Dallas notching just two wins in 10 tries away from the American Airlines Center so far. That puts them on pace for eight, EIGHT, road wins this season. That’s not going to cut it if the team is still holding out hope of sneaking into the playoffs. I’m not sure what the solution is at this point. Rick Carlisle and the players will probably muse about “effort” and “focus,” but the problem is clearly bigger than sports cliches.
Josh: The Mavericks have exceeded most expectations so far, especially so after the rough start, so luckily this list is shorter than I anticipated. While there are some big picture things like getting more reps for Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith together to work on their chemistry, more micro level would be the defense and mainly making sure DeAndre Jordan is actively engaged. There’s no clearer example of Jordan’s on/off switch than the two consecutive games against the Lakers and Clippers, where Jordan was practically a ghost in the former and more of a presence in the latter. The Mavericks are squeezing about every drop of defense from their limited wing rotation, so if Jordan can hold up his end of the bargain more often, the Mavericks winning will be more consistent.
BONUS CONCERN: How do the Mavericks work the rotation when Dirk Nowitzki returns? One of Jordan, Kleber or Powell is going to have their minutes reduced and it’ll be up to Carlisle to balance the minutes so the Mavs are effective and happy.
Jordan: My concern before the season, my concern at the start of the season, and my concern even in this streak of winning has been depth on the wing.
The play of Dorian Finney-Smith has been a remarkable surprise, and has eased some of this. But the Mavs really do need more depth there. Even with Devin Harris being a positive factor off the bench.
Harris missed 10 games, Harrison Barnes missed 4, Wesley Matthews 4, Luka Doncic now 1, and yet Ryan Broekhoff has only played in 11 games. And averaging less than four minutes at that.
It says more about how Carlisle sees Broekhoff than anything else. But all that’s to say, it would be really nice to have another wing off the bench who can be a consistent contributor. Especially when Salah Mejri is just taking up a roster spot.
Carlisle has found a workable tight rotation since Harris returned. But I get this feeling they’re walking on thin ice, relying on the health of some players with injury history.
Kirk: I’m not really worried about a lot, because a good deal of what ails Dallas at times this season has to do with effort. If there’s one thing to worry about that’s nit-picky, I would say the team three point shooting.
Dallas is currently tied for 11th best team percentage at 35.8% from beyond the arc. Can Harrison Barnes continue to shoot near 40% from beyond the arc? What about Luka Doncic and Dorian Finney-Smith? Heck, even Dennis Smith Jr. is a flame thrower (relatively) from beyond the arc this season. The three ball is a big part of the Maverick game plan and if any or all of these players fall of, the Mavericks may struggle.