What to be said that hasn’t already been said for this week’s MPRW? The team is in a bizarre purgatory to close the season, losing enough to barely be in a playoff play-in conversation but winning just enough that they’re running out all groundballs.
It’s likely the better path for the future involves the Mavericks holding on to their pick in this summer’s draft, but it would require them falling inside the first ten picks of the lottery. With other teams opting to do the same, the Mavericks would really need to lose. So it’s no surprise that the limbo continues with just a handful of games left. One bright spot mentioned below is the recent play of rookie Jaden Hardy. For the Mavericks to grow after this season, his play could be a big piece of the puzzle.
Here is what some of the major outlets had to say about the Mavericks’ recent play:
Last week: 14
The performance of rookie guard Jaden Hardy, who looks like a steal as a second-round pick, has been a silver lining during the Mavs’ miserable March. Hardy, 20, has averaged 16.4 points with a 60.7 true shooting percentage this month. Scouts have compared Hardy, a speedy 6-foot-4 guard with a smooth 3-point stroke, to Jordan Clarkson and Jordan Poole and project him to be an instant-offense type of sixth man soon. — MacMahon
Rank: 22 (Tier 4: Looking to make the play-in)
Last week: 13
One burning question: Where do the Mavs go with the Kyrie Irving situation?
The wheels aren’t completely off yet, but damn this looks terrible for the Mavs. Dallas was 29-26 when Kyrie Irving first stepped on the court for the team. Now they’ve lost four straight games, including two straight to the lowly Hornets, and they are 11th in the West, on the outside looking in for the Play-In Tournament. When Irving made his Mavs debut, the team was sixth in the West. This isn’t necessarily a place to blame Kyrie either. The Mavs are broken in a lot of ways. The team is actually quite successful when Luka Dončić and Kyrie are in the game together, but they’re 3-8 in the 11 games they’ve teamed up for. Kyrie is going to be an unrestricted free agent, and Dallas may be in a corner in which they have to give him the full four-year max. This team desperately needs defensive-minded role players.
Last week: 15
Luka Dončić returned from a five-game absence because of a thigh injury on Wednesday. He went for 30 points and 17 assists and was plus-two in a two-point loss to the Golden State Warriors.
A loss the Dallas Mavericks are officially protesting, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. After the dust settles, the Mavericks will still be below .500 and in real danger of missing the playoffs.
In today’s NBA, when every superstar on a non-marquee franchise is seemingly on the clock for a potential departure, an exit that early will draw all kinds of unwanted attention for Luka and the Mavs, who also have Kyrie Irving’s free agency to deal with this summer.
Last week: 13
Though the Mavs are 3-8 with both Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in the lineup, they’ve been outscored by a total of just one point over those 11 games, with all eight of the losses having been within five points in the last five minutes. But only two of those losses have come against teams – Sacramento and Phoenix – that are currently more than a game over .500. And over the weekend, the Mavs lost both games of a home-and-home set against the team – Charlotte – with the league’s fourth worst record.
Defense has been the larger issue for the post-deadline Mavs, but they scored just 107.6 points per 100 possessions over the two games against the Hornets. They committed just 19 total turnovers, but shot just 33% from 3-point range (Irving was 3-for-14) and 4-for-19 from mid-range over the two games, bad numbers for the team that’s taken only 42% of its shots (the league’s second lowest rate) in the paint. And though they missed a lot of shots, the two losses to the Hornets were the 31st and 32nd times this season that the Mavs have registered fewer than 10 second chance points. The Mavs are one of three teams that rank in the top 10 in three of the four factors on offense, but their offensive rebounding percentage of 23.0% would be the second lowest mark for any team in the last five seasons.
With those two games, the Mavs are just 9-16 against the Eastern Conference with five more interconference games to go. More important than their record against the East or their record with both Doncic and Irving is that they’re now in 11th place after sitting in fourth (at 31-26) before their first game that the two stars played together.