You’ve heard about Luka’ continued rise to stardom, about how Dennis Smith Jr. is back and playing good defense, and how the Mavericks still have one of the worst road records but one of the best home records in the NBA.
Now here are 10 things you may have missed from the Mavs over the last few weeks.
1. DeAndre Jordan won’t pass to Luka, again!? (0:12)
We’ve been through the idea of DeAndre Jordan and the Mavs freezing out Luka. But there are still some weird moments where DeAndre gets a defensive rebound and won’t pass to to Luka. And there’s no better example than this moment against the Thunder where DeAndre grabs a board and double clutches before throwing the ball downcourt to Maxi Kleber — who was turned the other way! All while Luka was standing right next to him.
One of the reasons this happens is that DeAndre is trying to survey the floor to push the ball in transition. It might make sense if you think about it like that — but it does happen specifically to Luka a lot.
You just can’t explain why DeAndre would pass to Wes only for Wes to pass to Luka here. And if you think that’s weird, it happened again in the very same game with Brunson and Luka.
2. Dennis Smith Jr.’s block after the whistle (1:07)
You’ve seen guys like Kevin Garnett swat a shot attempt after the ball is whistled dead, but have you ever seen a point guard do it? That’s the kind of hops Dennis Smith Jr. has to just casually hit this. And he’s done it before too.
A lot of cool stuff after the whistle here. DSJ easily rises and swats the shot back to Lillard, who casually throws it 30 feet in the air for... a swish. pic.twitter.com/Z18HjLv10v— Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla) April 4, 2018
3. Luka Doncic, The Matador? (1:18)
Mavs color analyst Derek Harper continues to try and push The Matador as Luka’s nickname. And Mavs fans are rightly not about it. Apparently now the Mavs have even filed a trademark for the nickname The Matador and El Matador. Which is problematic in more ways than just being a bad moniker.
First of all Luka is from Slovenia, not Spain. And matador really makes me think of Luka as being a turnstile of sorts on defense. Which is not really an image you want unless you’re the Bugs Bunny type of matador.
4. Luka’s racking up assists (1:46)
At the beginning of the season Luka wasn’t dishing out assists at the rate I expected. While I may have been drawn in by all the highlight videos there was an adjustment period that Luka seems to have pushed past.
Over Luka’s first 23 games he averaged 4.1 assists and 9.1 potential assists. A potential assist is a pass that could become an assist if the receiving player makes a shot. So over Luka’s first 23 games he missed out on 5.0 assists per game because his teammates missed shots.
Over Luka’s last 12 games he’s averaging 6.8 assists and 10.3 potential assists. So he’s only missing out on 3.5 assist per game now.
Luka’s teammates are making more shots which could be a result of better passes or adjustment. But it’s a positive trend nonetheless.
5. Move Wes to the bench? (2:25)
One of the most suggested lineup changes fans want the Mavericks to make is moving Wes Matthews to the bench in favor of Dorian Finney-Smith. This has some numbers to back it up.
If you consider the starters to be DSJ, Luka, HB, and DJ, the 5-man lineup with Wes Matthews and the starters has a net rating of -8.1 in 230 min.
But that lineup with Finney-Smith in place of Wes has a net rating of 3.4 in 133 minutes. That’s an 11.5 POINT DIFFERENCE. It’s a small sample size but enough to prove it’s a viable lineup.
But what about the bench? if you consider the Mavs bench lineup to be J.J., Devin, Maxi, and Dwight that group with Dorian has a net rating of 12.7 in 93 minutes. That group with Wes has a net rating of 40.8!!!! That’s in just 15 minutes of play but that 5-man group of J.J., Brunson, Maxi, Dwight, and Wes has a net rating of 26.8 in 25 minutes.
So moving Wes to the bench might help out both units. Dorian’s length helps the Starters and Wes can bring some play making to the bench.
6. DeAndre Jordan turnovers (3:30)
The Mavs have a pretty bad turnover problem. Luka and Dennis are blamed for the bulk of the damage but there’s another Maverick that deserves some of the credit.
There are only 44 players in the NBA averaging 2.4 turnovers or more per game and DeAndre Jordan is one of them. And of those 44 players DJ has the lowest usage percentage. DeAndre also has the 4th highest TO% of any player that has played at least 500 minutes this season
The Mavs have allowed DeAndre to make plays and he’s thrown some great passes, but a player with a usage rate as low as DeAndre shouldn’t be turning the ball over as frequently as he is.
7. The things that happens during EVERY Mavs home game (4:01)
There are very few things that happen during every single Mavericks game. Luka will hit a step-back three. Carlisle will have a sad look on his face, and Mavs Head Video Coordinator Mike Shedd will wink right at the camera after his halftime interview on Fox Sports Southwest.
Which I’ve heard is a sign to his family at home that he loves them and now I’ve seen it so much it feels like he loves me too.
8. Dwight Powell Needs Maxi Kleber (4:20)
You may have heard or seen me call J.J. Barea and Devin Harris the Ice Climbers because of how badly they seem to play without one another. But Dwight Powell seems to have taken that idea to another level with Maxi Kleber.
When Maxi and Dwight play together they have a net rating of 15.0 in 323 minutes. But when Dwight plays without Maxi this season he has a net rating of -17.5 in 180 minutes. Good lord.
180 minutes is enough for me to wonder whether or not they should connected like the actual Ice Climbers are.
9. DeAndre’s free throws since the technical free throw (4:49)
On November 24th DeAndre Jordan was asked to do the unthinkable. Shoot a technical free throw. For the first 9 years of DeAndre’s career he was a 43 percent shooter at the free throw line — one of the worst marks in NBA history. But this season he’s become even an above average shooter at times. Until he was asked to shoot this technical free throw. Before that game DeAndre was shooting 78.1 percent from the line and since then he’s shooting just 63.2 percent and it’s continuing to drop.
It may have been funny at the time but it also may have cursed him.
10. Marv Albert trying to pronounce Doncic (5:18)
And finally I’ll leave you with Marv Albert attempting to pronounce Luka Doncic in as many ways as possible.
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