Something is rotten with the shooting in Dallas. Two seasons removed from having the most efficient offence in NBA history, the Dallas Mavericks are struggling to hit shots. It’s not just one or two players who are outliers, bringing down percentages, it’s a problem up and down the roster.
Players who were shooting stalwarts last season—Sterling Brown, Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith—don’t have the touch through the first two games of the season. Even Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, in his three appearances, aren’t shooting well. Even though the season is still early, there’s plenty of cause for concern.
Perhaps the biggest issue the Mavericks’ offense is facing is their three-point shooting. Dallas hoists the sixth most threes in the league—40.4 per game—but they aren’t finding nylon. In fact, Dallas is one of the worst teams in terms of three-point percentage. They only make 30.7 percent of their attempts, ranking them twenty-seventh.
“We’re getting great looks,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said Wednesday before playing the Spurs. “We’re shooting 40 threes, which I think right now would be third in the league. We’re shooting a lot of threes. We’re getting a lot of wide open looks that just haven’t fallen for us. The quality of those threes are at a high rate.”
Kidd isn’t wrong. The Mavericks are shooting a lot of open threes. According to NBA.com, 18.8 percent of the threes Dallas takes are open, meaning the closest defender is four to six feet away. However, they’re only knocking down 26.9 percent of these shots—fifth worst in the league.
On wide open attempts from downtown—closest defender six or more feet away—the Mavericks do much better. They shoot a league average 36.8 percent. Still, it’s troubling that some of the players the team relies on to hit open looks simply aren’t doing it.
For as much as he’s improved year-after-year, Finney-Smith is one of the reasons Dallas’ outside shooting is in the dumps. This season, he’s averaging just 20 percent on shots from behind the arc. Making matters worse, he has an effective field goal percentage of 25 on spot up jump shots, which make up 40.4 percent of his overall looks.
He doesn’t shoot many open threes, just four on the season so far, but he makes a living taking wide open ones. He’s taken 35 wide open threes, totaling 47.9 percent of his overall three-point attempts, but he is only hitting them at a 20 percent clip.
Meanwhile, Brown has missed all but one of his open looks from deep. He’s one of nine on the season—good for 11.1 percent. Bullock, too, is struggling. Of his 15 open attempts, he’s shooting 33.3 percent. He’s a little better on wide open shots, making 36.8 percent of his 19 total attempts.
It’s not just the role players who are dragging the percentage down. Doncic is struggling as well. He’s shooting 25.4 percent from behind the arc. Of his shots from deep, 29.5 percent are open—51 in total. He’s only making 27.5 percent of these.
If the issue is simply missing shots, then it’s hard to fault the system the new coaching staff implements—although it looks rough. The Mavericks, as constructed, are a volume three-point shooting team, if their shooters can no longer make those shots, then the team will have a crisis on its hands fit for the Prince of Denmark.
“You’re going to make shots in this league, and you’re going to miss shots,” Kidd said. “Right now, we’re getting a lot of wide open looks that just haven’t fallen for us.”