We’re at the halfway point. The Dallas Mavericks are 41 games into this season, and we’ve learned a few things. The Mavericks are pretty good! Unless something weird and catastrophic happens, they’ll at least make the play-in tournament. They still have trouble being consistent, which is why they’ll probably end up in the play-in tournament, or at best, a fifth or sixth seed.
What are they doing well? Where are they struggling? Here are some stats that explain the season thus far, or are just interesting:
9th: The Mavericks rank in pace
The Mavericks are...moving? The notoriously slow Mavericks have decided to run this season and are ninth in the league in pace. This is so uncharacteristic for the plodding Luka Doncic and company, and it’s working. They’re eighth in fast break points per game at 15.1, which means lots of easy buckets. This means Doncic doesn’t have to work as hard to grind out offense for Dallas, and can save some energy for the defensive end. Having younger, more athletic players, as well as Kyrie Irving, definitely helps the Mavericks move the ball up the floor quicker.
1st: The Mavericks rank in turnovers
Despite playing faster, Dallas is taking care of the ball better than any team in the NBA. They average only 12.1 turnovers per game. Doncic and Irving, despite being two of the most creative and daring attackers in the league, excel in protecting the ball. They just don’t give the ball up, especially when you consider how often the ball is in their hands. The rest of the Mavericks follow suit, making it tough to get easy baskets off of them.
8: The number of wins against teams above .500
The Mavericks are only 8-13 against teams above .500. They’re feasting against bad teams, going 16-4 in games against opponents below .500. That’s something good teams do. But true contenders beat the best teams in the league, and Dallas just isn’t doing that this season. The Minnesota Timberwolves, for instance, are 17-9 against teams above .500. Until the Mavericks start getting consistent wins against good teams, it’s hard to consider them contenders.
46: The Mavericks points in the paint per game
With Doncic and Irving, the Mavericks should be able to get into the lane at will and generate points. Instead, they settle for jumpers far too often, scoring only 46 points per game in the paint. That’s 25th in the NBA. There may be some spacing issues at play, since defenses will really only respect Tim Hardaway Jr.’s shot, but most of the Mavericks’ perimeter players are shooting well from deep this season. It might just be a matter of Doncic not driving to the basket enough. He’s only driving 18.4 times per game, the lowest in his career since his rookie year.
11.7: The number of corner three’s per game the Mavericks take
The Mavericks lead the league in corner three’s, the easiest 3-pointers available on the court. It’s a great shot to generate a lot of points, and Dallas gets more of them than any team in the league. Unfortunately, they’re not hitting them at a great rate. The Mavericks hit only 37.1 percent of these corner three’s. That’s 22nd in the NBA. Compare that to the Brooklyn Nets, who are hitting almost 46 percent of the 10.4 they take per game. Imagine how many points would be added per game if the Mavs just upped that percentage to 40. They’ve got to find a way to convert the great shots they’re getting in the corners.