Despite the Mavericks blistering start to the season, by far the strangest development has been the curious season of Seth Curry. Brought back over the summer to space the floor for Luka Doncic, Curry entered Tuesday night’s game against New Orleans averaging 7.8 points per game and shooting a rather average (for a Curry) 36.9 percent from three.
These numbers were far below what Curry did during his one season in Dallas a few years ago and disappointing when you consider how desperately the Mavericks need his shooting. Somehow, they’ve not only survived without much from Curry, they’ve thrived — Dallas has the league’s best offense, scoring a historic 116.1 points per 100 possessions. Thanks to Doncic taking an MVP-level leap, Tim Hardaway Jr. turning into a volcano and other role players doing just enough, the Mavericks’ offense hasn’t been an issue.
However, as I’ve watched Dallas score bundles of points with Curry not making much of a peep, I thought about something crazy — is this Mavericks offense, which is currently scoring at a pace that would be the greatest offense of all time, still only scratching the surface? What does it look like when Curry looks like Curry again?
We got a small answer to that against the Pelicans. Curry scored a season-high 19 points on 11 shots with five made three-pointers. Dallas didn’t have everything clicking, so they only scored 118 points. But that right there is the key — the Mavericks can support mediocre games from their streaky role players if Curry is bombing from deep and making plays, like he did Tuesday night. My favorite play involving Curry wasn’t even a Curry shot — it was the Mavericks using the threat of his shooting to open things up for others.
This play doesn’t look like much, but Curry sparks it. He’s so good at coming off screens and he does a great job rubbing his man off Maxi Kleber, forcing a switch. Now Brandon Ingram is guarding Kleber in the corner and Curry keeps the ball moving as he doesn’t have a shot. The play transitions right into Dwight Powell screening for Doncic, one of the most effective plays in all of basketball this season. New Orleans traps, because they don’t want Doncic to live at the rim like he normally does. Thanks to Curry running his man off the Kleber screen, Ingram is the one that has to help at the rim. That’s an easy two points plus the foul for Powell, all started thanks to Curry’s threat as a shooter initially scrambling the Pelicans defense.
It’s similar impact to this play I’ve showcased before, where Curry and Kristaps Porzingis work together to get Porzingis an open three.
Again, these are things Curry is very good at it. It’s been mind-boggling that he hasn’t been able to do it more for the Mavericks this season. Curry has scored in double-figures in just eight of the Mavericks 20 games this season and only hit multiple threes in nine. The Mavericks offense, entering the Pelicans game, got worse with Curry on the floor compared to when he’s on the bench. None of it computed.
So it was nice to see Curry thrive on Tuesday night. He was aggressive with his shot, canned open looks in the corners and used his skill to get teammates open, even if he wasn’t dishing the assist. Don’t look now, but the Mavericks historic offense might be getting better if Curry can keep it up.