The Dallas Mavericks are off to a 3-2 start, but if we’re being honest, that record doesn’t seem indicative of the team we’ve seen thus far. Dallas took care of the Washington Wizards at home, took down the New Orleans Pelicans on the road, narrowly lost to the Portland Trail Blazers which swung the other way on a coach’s challenge, beat the Denver Nuggets in the Mile High City, and lost in gut wrenching fashion to the Los Angeles Lakers in overtime.
Even the biggest skeptics have to be pleased with the start while the most vocal optimists will acknowledge work still needs to be done. Five games is a small sample size, but we’ve received enough of a look to start taking stock of the Mavericks.
The talk of the summer was how Doncic would follow up a historic rookie season. How would he counter teams having a season of tape on him? Did he already reach his ceiling? Honestly, how much better can he get?
Through a week and a half, Doncic is on a scorched earth rampage vaulting himself into top-15 player in the NBA status. He’s averaging an absurd 26 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.4 assists. He had one hiccup in Denver, but if you take that away (just for fun), he’s averaging 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Doncic is a puppet master controlling the nine other players on the court with strings. The one thing to monitor will be how he adjusts defensively. Teams are picking on him on that end, most notably with the Lakers attacking him down the stretch. However, he’s a bonafide superstar. He should be in the skyrocketing stock category.
The Mavericks’ biggest offseason signing has acquainted himself nicely while Rick Carlisle continues to solidify rotations. In 25 minutes per night, Wright is averaging 11 points, 3.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 61 percent from the field and 56 percent from three (on nearly two attempts per game). Wright has been a menace defensively, prompting Carlisle to compare him to Jason Kidd, and he’s shown an exceptional ability to slither his way to the basket giving Dallas another reliable creator.
Kleber has struggled to shoot, and that’s been a major disappointment, but he’s collecting eight rebounds a night and is flexing his defensive versatility causing problems for Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Brandon Ingram and handled himself well getting switched on Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum after ball screens. He failed to block a shot against the Lakers, but swatted eight in the previous four games.
Carlisle’s affinity for Finney-Smith is enough to point his arrow up, but he’s played a significant role in the Mavericks’ good start. While his shooting numbers still aren’t great, he’s been the Mavericks’ most versatile defender and is continuing to be an exceptional offensive rebounder (he collected five Friday against the Lakers). He’s averaging three more minutes per game than last season, even with the Mavericks’ offseason additions. The Mavericks love them some DFS.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Outside of a good, and needed, game in Denver, Hardaway Jr. has been who he’s always been, and it’s probably best to expect that the rest of the way. He’s plagued with poor shot selection and has struggled from deep aside from the last two games. Shooting under 30 percent on more than five attempts isn’t going to cut it, especially when the player provides little value elsewhere.
Jackson’s stock is pointing down.. barely. There were whispers in the offseason he could be the fifth starter, but he’s started exactly zero games and logged only two minutes against the Lakers. He’s shot the ball well, which is encouraging, but hasn’t really made an impact elsewhere. And the fact that he’s yet to play more than 20 minutes while Carlisle is trying many things to see what sticks is somewhat discouraging.
When I’m on my final breaths I’ll always wonder where D.B. Cooper’s treasure is, the story behind Stonehenge, and why Carlisle started Lee the first two games of the season.
Through five games Porzingis is averaging 21 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in nearly 33 minutes per game. To say he’s been a disappointment is wildly inaccurate, but he’s also shown that he has a long way to go. He’s not shooting the ball well, he’s a poor one-on-one defender, and the Mavericks have yet to fully integrate him into the offense. It’s way too early to get too high or too low on Porzingis.
Strangely, Curry is only playing 22 minutes per game and just recently has Carlisle deployed the sharp shooter with Doncic/Porzingis lineups. He’s shooting 38 percent from three, which is below his lofty standards, but otherwise has looked like the player Dallas was hoping for. Curry’s playing time is the only outstanding question after the first week and half.
Working his way back from a preseason hamstring injury, Dallas has worked Powell in slowly, but he’s already made his presence felt in his first two games. His 14 points against the Lakers were a direct reflection of the chemistry he has with Doncic.
With J.J. Barea yet to log any playing time, Brunson has been the engineer of the second unit. Highlighted Tuesday against the Nuggets, Brunson captained a second unit that poured in 61 points, but he’s looked steady all season even though the shooting numbers don’t agree. His 29 percent success rate from behind the arc and 50 percent mark from the free throw line are discouraging, but he’s a team-high plus-six so far.
Bobi got his first crack against the Lakers and looked all right! He contributed four points and seven rebounds (three offensive). If anything his greatest contribution is making behemoths like Dwight Howard look like normal sized humans.