Dallas has had an issue with the “other guys” for a few years now. Rumblings online about Luka Doncic’s lack of help have circulated time and again and they were never justified more than they were this past season. Starting with Dallas’ 5-11 record without Luka Doncic in the lineup, the statistics heavily supported the idea that too much was on the shoulders of the Mavericks’ stars.
If you remove the games Kyrie Irving played in, Dallas was 2-10 in games with neither of their stars available. Irving and Doncic have two of Dallas’ three highest offensive ratings when on the floor (121.4 and 118.1), and the team’s two lowest when off (111.0 and 111.5). Doncic had nearly a 37 percent usage rate last season, and Irving was second at 27 percent. That’s a lot of weight on their shoulders, and not enough on the other ancillary pieces.
Spencer Dinwiddie led the Robins in scoring at 17.7 points per game. After he was traded, Christian Wood then became the leader at 16.6. Tim Hardaway Jr. was the only other player in Dallas to average over 10 points (14.4). Of the top ten players in minutes per game for Dallas last year, four averaged at least five rebounds or five assists. Two of those players were Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic, one was Spencer Dinwiddie, and the only other player was Christian Wood. Not a single player outside of those four averaged more than 20 points plus rebounds plus assists.
Dallas needed Reggie Bullock and Tim Hardaway Jr. to attack more. They needed Dwight Powell to be a better presence on defense. They needed Maxi Kleber to stay healthy and defend three through five for 30 minutes. They had a lot of “seventh best” players trying to play roles four through six. Dallas needed more from them, but realistically there wasn’t more to give.
Straight A’s: February 6th against Utah
In the wake of Dallas’ big midseason trade for Kyrie Irving, the Mavericks found themselves with no star to lead them on the road in Utah, as Irving hadn’t arrived and Doncic was out with injury. In one of the more fun games of the season, Dallas managed to beat the Jazz 124-111. Jaden Hardy and Josh Green each had 29 points and a plethora of fun highlight plays. At the time, it seemed like a big win to keep Dallas afloat until their stars returned.
Failing Miserably: January 30th against Detroit
On the other end of the spectrum, this home game against Detroit was one of the supporting cast’s worst games. Luka Doncic shined with 53 points, and it wasn’t until Spencer Dinwiddie surpassed the double-digit plateau in the fourth quarter that any other player had even more than 9 points. Dallas won this game, but with two players in double figures and a six-point margin of victory against a 13-38 Pistons team, was it really much of a win?
Extra Credit: Maxi Kleber’s game-winner
A role player making a big shot is rare in Dallas, but Kleber hit one of the biggest shots of the season to beat the Lakers in Los Angeles:
"I've never had a game winner like that"— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) March 18, 2023
The man of the hour! Maxi Kleber breaks down the buzzer beat in LA to give the Mavericks the win #MFFL | @dallasmavs on @BallySportsSW pic.twitter.com/1g7WbjQPuP