Our last stock report analyzed the Mavericks after just a few games. While it was safe to make a few assumptions and claims in early November, the data is much more clear and the film is much more honest at this point in the season.
The beauty of early December is that players trending up have a chance to build off the early season success, and the players trending down are not finished writing the 2019-2020 chapter. There’s still much to unfold, and yet, we already know a lot about who these Mavericks are.
While I’m not going to go through every player, I wanted to touch on a few that have stood out since November 3.
Class of his own
It’s not right to put Luka Doncic in the same category as any of the other players — he’s been that good. Like Coca-Cola and Amazon exploded in the stock market making the bulls filthy rich and the bears sick with regret, Doncic is doing the same (looking at you, Phoenix and Sacramento).
In the 14 games since the last stock report, Doncic vaulted himself into legendary company, averaging 33 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists throughout November. He led the charge in key wins against the Raptors and Spurs, paced Dallas in hanging 140+ on both the Warriors and Cavaliers, out-dueled James Harden in Houston, and beat the Suns and Lakers on the road. After not scoring 40 points once last season (he was a rookie – we’ll cut him some slack), he’s dropped 40 plus in three of the last seven games. We all get it. He’s good.
It’s been a long grind with Porzingis, and it’s very possible there’s still a long way to go, but Porzingis is slowly starting to build off each game, unveiling facets of his old self with each passing day. We last analyzed Porzingis’ stock on November 3, and since then, the Latvian has averaged close to 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks while shooting 36 percent from three. That puts him at 17/9/2/.351 on the season which classifies him in a league of his own. He’s notched a double-double seven times in the last nine games and has come up big on the defensive end time and time again. The growing pains stick out, but Porzingis is rounding into form.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Since November 3, Hardaway has been on a tear, averaging 14 points per night while shooting 38 percent from behind the arc (He reached 42 percent until his 0-7 clunker against the Lakers Sunday). More importantly, Rick Carlisle ended his starting lineup musical chairs thanks to Hardaway’s stellar play. Since being inserted into the starting lineup, the veteran wing has pumped in 18 points and dished 2.5 assists per night while shooting an absurd 55 percent from the field and 50(!!) percent from three. While those numbers aren’t sustainable (see Sunday’s game against the Lakers) it’s clear Hardaway’s best fit is alongside Doncic and Porzingis. With those two, Hardaway’s game is simple: shoot and take advantage of imbalanced defenses.
It’s a testament to Jackson’s play that he lands in this category while receiving an irregular dose of minutes. He’s played only 13 minutes per night since November 3 and even received a DNP in the second bout against the Knicks, but he’s shown a consistent stroke and innate ability to put himself in good situations on the offensive end. In that stretch Jackson has cashed in 49 percent of his threes bumping up his season average to a team-high 47 percent. After splashing home three of his five triples in a monumental win against the Lakers, it seems Jackson’s earned some more playing time moving forward.
Arguably the biggest disappointment in a season the Mavericks appear to be playing with house money is Seth Curry. After a murky start, nursing a training camp injury and loose rotations, it stood to reason that Curry’s track record as a shooter would eventually catch up with him, but so far it simply hasn’t. He’s shooting a career low 37 percent from three (which speaks to his lofty standards) and is playing only 21 minutes per game compared to 29 minutes per game in his first stint in Dallas. Curry had every opportunity to cement himself in the starting lineup but was usurped by Hardaway Jr. while he was ill. It’s a long season, and Curry didn’t forget how to shoot, but he hasn’t meshed as seamlessly as we all thought he might.
Having played more than 15 minutes only twice (one of those games was the blowout against Golden State) in the last nine games, Brunson’s arrow is pointing down after almost 20 games this season. The reserve guard is averaging a shade under 15 minutes since November 3, but the true blemish is his 25 percent mark from three. Brunson did play a key role in keeping the Spurs at bay, but he logged only 2:39 in the win against the Rockets, 13:00 versus the Clippers, 9:07 against Phoenix and 10:30 against the Lakers. For the season Brunson has notched a 45/26/69 shooting split which simply won’t cut it for an NBA point guard.
The Mavericks are also getting quality, consistent play from Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith, while Dwight Powell plays his way into a rhythm and Delon Wright tries to find his footing. The month of December should illuminate even more about the Mavericks as they face the Pelicans, Timberwolves and Kings before contests with the Eastern Conference’s best within a week. At 13-6 the Mavericks are defying expectations, but the toughest tests are yet to come.