Predicting statistics can be one of the most fun yet futile acts in the sports world. Betting and fantasy sports are the most common uses, but sometimes it is a useful exercise to just predict without any stakes, in hopes that you are right down the line. Here are my predictions for the Mavericks’ statistical leaders in 2022-23:
Points Per Game: Luka Doncic, 30.8
It is no secret that Doncic is the Mavericks’ best scorer, and one of the best in the league for that matter. In each of his seasons after his rookie year, he has improved in either field goal percentage, three point percentage, or free throw percentage from the previous year, but never all three at the same time. For this reason, he has hovered around 28-29 points a game the last three years, but with a full offseason and the EuroBasket tournament keeping him in shape going into the season, I expect an all-around efficiency bump, leading to a career year in scoring from the young phenom. Expect him to average at least 30 points a night.
Assists Per Game: Luka Doncic, 9.6
Coinciding with his scoring prowess, Doncic boasts one of the most unique passing arsenals in the NBA. He has an innate ability to find the open man, and teammates like Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock have benefited greatly from his pinpoint passes to open shooters. With new pick-and-roll (or pick-and-pop) partners in Javale McGee and Christian Wood, along with the anticipation of a big season from Spencer Dinwiddie, Doncic will have plenty of opportunity to dish out assists. Expect him to average between nine and ten a game.
Rebounds Per Game: Christian Wood, 10.2
Wood was a good rebounder in Houston last year. He was grabbing 10.1 boards on average, including 1.6 on the offensive end. Given that Wood will likely see a decent amount of time on the floor with Doncic and McGee, it would be logical to assume that his rebound production will decrease. However, I think this will have an inverse effect. Wood has something to prove, and a lot of the questions about him revolve around effort. He is going to prove that even with other great rebounders on the floor, he is the guy who will grab the big rebounds when it matters. Expect him to continue his production at over ten rebounds per game.
Games Played: Javale McGee, 77
McGee was brought in to Dallas with the promise of a starting role. More specifically, he seems to be taking Dwight Powell’s role, in which Powell appeared in all 82 games last year. McGee is about three years older than Powell, so expecting him to appear in every game is unrealistic. However, because he will likely be playing 15-20 minutes a night, and is not asked to do much outside of screen, roll, and defend the paint, it is likely that McGee appears in more than 75 games.
Threes Made: Luka Doncic, 227
The previous two years Doncic has made 192 and 201 threes in 66 and 65 games, respectively, without shooting over 35 percent in either year. Expecting a jump in efficiency coupled with his high volume, Doncic should lead the team in three pointers made by a fair margin. Expect Doncic to make a career high number of threes, in a range above 220.
Blocks: Maxi Kleber, 78
This one was tough, because Javale McGee is also an excellent rim protector. He led Phoenix in blocks (81) in just 16 minutes a game off the bench, with more than double the next closest player (Deandre Ayton, 40). Despite this efficiency, Maxi will have a bigger role than McGee because of his ability to stretch the floor, and therefore will get more opportunities for blocked shots. Kleber has only managed to play 50 and 59 games in the past two seasons, but in 2019-20, when he appeared in 74 games, he blocked 83 shots. In a world where Kleber stays healthy, you can expect him to swat over 75 shots this year.
Steals: Dorian Finney-Smith, 83
Finney-Smith led Dallas in steals last year (88), and proved himself to be the Mavericks most valuable defensive asset. He guards multiple positions, and has quick hands and great anticipation. Expect Finney-Smith to get around 80 steals this season.
Fouls: Christian Wood, 187
This was another tough one because Dorian Finney-Smith, Javale McGee, and Christian Wood all committed a foul about two and a half times per game last season. Ultimately, Wood is the least disciplined on defense of the three and is going to be making the most adjustment to the defensive scheme. Expect him to commit northward of 185 fouls this year.
Miles Ran: Spencer Dinwiddie, 197.6
Dinwiddie is going to see a large increase in usage this season, which means a lot more ball handling responsibility, leading to many more driving opportunities. He will be more active on defense in a bigger role, and adding another year removed from his surgery sets him up to be incredibly mboile on both sides. Expect Dinwiddie to run nearly 200 miles this year.
Contested Threes Attempted (Closest Defender 2-4 feet): Tim Hardaway Jr, 127
The only way to effectively show how distanced Tim Hardaway Jr. is from the rest of the team in taking contested threes is to plot it. Here are the contested three point attempts and games played of Mavericks not named Tim Hardaway Jr. last year:
And here is Tim Hardaway Jr.:
Hardaway Jr. took more than double the amount of contested threes that second place Luka Doncic did, in two-thirds of the games. Expect him to take close to 130 contested shots from beyond the arc this upcoming year, which will carry a few “no, no, no… Yes!” moments as well.
Largest NBA 2K Rating Jump: Spencer Dinwiddie, 80→86
This came down to two players: Christian Wood and Spencer Dinwiddie. Wood is starting at an 84 and Dinwiddie at an 80. I expect both players to have great years and significantly increase their rating, but Dinwiddie won for two reasons. The first is simply that his rating is lower, and therefore has more room to improve. The second is that we know what Dinwiddie can be on this team. We have seen him score 30 and make game-winners, and fulfill the “second star” role for stretches. The last time we saw a player on this team with Wood’s build he was shipped off for Spencer Dinwiddie. Wood’s ceiling is higher, but until Wood proves he can do what Kristaps Porzingis couldn’t, Diwniddie is the frontrunner for a rating jump. Expect his NBA 2K23 overall rating to increase by at least five points this season.