This Mavericks season is equal parts complicated and straightforward. They rank near the top in several key categories, the source of any success they’ve had. However the problems that plague them in each loss repeat themselves over and over. Each game feels like a terrifying roller coaster.
But the Mavericks aren’t going away either. They have holes to fill, sure. Jason Kidd needs to sort out why an offensive talent like Christian Wood continually gets pushed to the bench. But thanks to Luka Doncic and the shooting around him the team can be competitive in any matchup.
Here is the lay of the land in this week’s Mavericks Power Rankings Watch.
Rank: 7 (Tier 3: Playoff Teams)
Last week: 10
What are they thankful for? Spencer Dinwiddie filling the shoes of Jalen Brunson so perfectly. There are plenty of reasons to question whether the Dallas Mavericks made the right call when they traded for Dinwiddie and Dāvis Bertāns before the trade deadline. I certainly wasn’t sold on the move. Once Brunson left for Madison Square Garden, it put a lot more pressure on Dinwiddie to fill Brunson’s vacated role as a weapon next to Luka Dončić. Dinwiddie has been the second-leading scorer on the Mavs so far this season, and he’s shooting the lights out.
Last week: 7
Two weeks ago, the Mavs ranked first in offensive efficiency, having scored 117.5 points per 100 possessions through their first eight games. Over the last two weeks, the Mavs have ranked 25th offensively, having scored just 108.3 per 100 over their last eight games. And that’s with four of these last eight games coming against teams – Orlando, Houston and Denver (x 2) – that rank in the bottom six defensively. The Mavs were without Luka Doncic against the Rockets on Wednesday and they had a huge offensive night – a 33-point triple-double for Doncic, 28 on 11-for-16 shooting for Christian Wood – in their first of two straight games against the Nuggets.
But they came up empty in the rematch, scoring just 97 points on 95 possessions, including just four points on their last 10 possessions of a game they lost by one. With his miss at the buzzer, Doncic is 0-for-4 on shots to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime this season (and 16-for-43 in his career).
Everybody in the Mavs’ rotation but Tim Hardaway Jr. has shot worse over these last two weeks than they did through Week 3, and it was probably impossible for Hardaway to shoot worse than he did early on. He still has the fourth worst effective field goal percentage (42.0%) among 184 players with at least 100 field goal attempts, still looking to find his range after missing the last four months of last season.
If he’s going to find it, he’ll have to do it away from the American Airlines Center. The Mavs have played 11 of their 16 games at home, and they’ll now play seven of their next 10 (and 18 of their next 29) on the road, where they’re currently just 1-4.
Last week: 11
We got a good look at the Luka Dončić-less Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. And, uh, it went about as you probably expected.
Against the Victor Wembanyama-chasing Houston Rockets, Dallas lost and didn’t have a single starter get to double-figures. Spencer Dinwiddie, ostensibly in the Luka role, had 10 assists but went 3-of-18 from the field and was minus-10.
Any team would look rough without its best player, but it’s more pronounced for the Mavericks, who might need a little more ball-handling even when Dončić is available.
Right now, Luka currently leads the league in time of possession and average seconds per touch (and both by pretty significant margins).
Last week: 10
Dallas has a trend of playing down against depleted teams. The Mavs have managed to lose to the Pelicans without Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Orlando Magic without Paolo Banchero, the Wizards without Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, and the Nuggets without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon. Dallas is also 0-4 when Luka Doncic doesn’t score 30 points — including a loss to the Rockets he sat out to rest. — MacMahon