The Dallas Mavericks boast an electric offense this year. They’re currently fourth in the NBA in offensive rating at 118, and fifth in the league in points per game at 119.4. There are problems with the defense, but the offense is a machine.
And there’s no doubt what powers that machine — Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. The two Mavericks superstars are performing at an elite level and providing plenty of buckets for Dallas. Doncic is averaging 30.5 points and 7.8 assists per game. Irving is just a bit off of that, putting up 24.4 points and 5.5 assists per game.
The backcourt duo has performed as advertised when the Mavericks pulled off the trade for Irving last season. Doncic and Irving have developed a smooth chemistry on the offensive end and not only get their own buckets, they set up easy shots for their teammates.
Unfortunately, in Saturday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, there’s evidence that while Doncic and Irving are able to provide a mountain of offense for the Mavericks, they still need more help.
Doncic and Irving were responsible for 56 of the Mavericks 88 points against the Clippers. When you add in the 17 points off the assists they dished out, 81 of the Mavericks’ points were generated solely by the superstar guard combo.
Before the Mavs pulled their starters off the floor with 4:45 left last night, do you know how many of their baskets weren't either scored or assisted by Kyrie and Luka?— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) November 26, 2023
Get these dudes some help.
That’s just not going to work as the regular season progresses. Teams will get more tape on the Mavericks’ offense and figure out ways to slow it down, much like what happened with the Clippers. They won’t stop it, mind you. Dallas will probably finish with a top 10 offense in the NBA, and they won’t be 10th. But with their porous defense, any slippage on the offensive end can be disastrous.
The Mavericks front office added Grant Williams and Seth Curry this offseason. There was probably hope for Josh Green and Jaden Hardy to step into bigger roles. Williams has played as expected, and while he’s not a straight spot-up shooter like Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock, he doesn’t have the ability to break defenses down off the dribble.
Curry does, but for some unknown reason, Jason Kidd is reluctant to play him. Green hasn’t shown he can reliably score and distribute other than hitting corner three’s, despite showing a knack for passing. Hardy is still too young and hasn’t demonstrated that he can do much more than hit open shots and get the occasional bucket on a drive. At present, he’s a scorer and not much else.
Tim Hardaway Jr. can score, mostly shooting threes, but has shown the ability to drive and hit pull up jumpers. He’s not great at finishing around the rim, though, and definitely can’t distribute the ball the way the Mavericks need.
Essentially, much like last year, Dallas is missing that third playmaker. Just one more perimeter player with the ability to threaten defenses with scoring and passing. The grind of the long season will eventually wear on Doncic and Irving. They can’t be the only ones scoring and setting up the offense. The coaching staff has to figure out a way to manufacture another playmaker from the roster, or the front office has to make a trade to acquire one. Otherwise, the Mavericks may find themselves stalling out toward the end of the season like they’ve done three of the last four years.