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New pieces in Dallas bring defense, but offense could elevate Mavericks to the top of the NBA

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The Mavericks will be looking for defensive stops. But what will the new Mavericks players need to do to match last year’s scoring?

Los Angeles Clippers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Six Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Last season the Dallas Mavericks were an offensive juggernaut. Their 115.9 Offensive Rating, bolstered by dynamic spacing and shooting, is a regular season mark never before registered. Much credit can be given to the scheming of Rick Carlisle and the playmaking of Luka Doncic, one of the best young distributors the game has seen.

The focus at the start of the 2020-21 season, however, has been the other side of the ball. Remarks from the front office on draft night in November and the start of training camp this week have centered on the Mavericks’ need to be better defensively. It’s clear, by the majority of off-season acquisitions, this is priority one after learning the lesson last season that it doesn’t matter how historic your offense is if you have the 18th ranked defense.

But with shipping off the team’s best shooter in Seth Curry, and the shuffling of other support pieces on the bench, how will the offense change after boosting the Mavericks defense?

Everyone orbits Doncic, and that won’t be changing any time soon. In a highly unusual season, with a shortened training camp and concerns of positive COVID tests across the league, Carlisle has already confirmed that the lineup will be fluid. This roster will be tasked with managing that, while replacing production in key areas:

Stats via NBA.com

The Mavericks took the third most corner threes in the league last season, and were particularly dynamic from the right corner. The gravity created by Doncic gives a troupe of shooters wide open looks, especially from those spots.

But even with Luka’s dynamic play, the Mavericks can only go so far unless those shooters make help defenders pay on Catch & Shoot opportunities. Last season they did that, with a few players hitting career marks from three. The players that won’t be around this season — namely Seth Curry, Courtney Lee, Delon Wright and Justin Jackson — provided a wide range of production in that regard.

2019-20 Catch & Shoot Average

  • Seth Curry: 48-percent
  • Courtney Lee: 35-percent
  • Delon Wright: 36-percent
  • Justin Jackson: 29-percent

The bookends of Curry and Jackson show a wide range of both the potential and pain of the Mavericks’ offense last season. These outgoing players collectively averaged 37-percent on shots so vital to the offensive success in Dallas.

This is what the collection of Josh Richardson, Trey Burke, James Johnson and rookies Josh Green and Tyrell Terry will be trying to supplement this season. Though this group may have a wide-range of roles or playing time, if they can give a boost defensively while also getting close to those Catch & Shoot numbers the Mavericks will be taking a big step toward being a contender.

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

2019-20 Catch & Shoot Average

  • Josh Richardson: 35-percent
  • Trey Burke: 39-percent
  • James Johnson: 42-percent

Burke is obviously already familiar with Carlisle’s system, but he’s worth inclusion in this group because of his short time with the team and the unknown aspect of how his role blends with the return of Jalen Brunson. Nevertheless, this trio averaging close to 39-percent gives hope that Seth Curry’s shooting won’t have disappeared entirely from this roster. Especially when the above doesn’t account for the shooting reputation of the rookie Terry, who might be the best pure shooter of this rookie class.

The Mavericks have a tough task ahead, already battling health concerns in a condensed season. There is no doubt that the Mavericks are less concerned with offensive production, and more concerned with...you know...maybe stopping an opponent or two every once in a while. But even if they were worried about a shooting slump with so many new faces, it would appear they are in good hands.