Dallas Mavericks: Surprisingly, Offense Is A Problem Early On

Oct 30, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (23) shoots the ball during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (23) shoots the ball during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Mavericks are off to a terrible start in 2016-17, but it’s their offense that has been the most concerning part of their early struggles.

Since Mark Cuban purchased the Dallas Mavericks, the team has been known for their offense. Whether it has been Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Jason Terry or the other pieces being featured, the team has certainly been known for its offensive weapons.

Let’s break it down. Since 2002-03, the Mavs have been a top-10 offensive efficiency team 12 out of 14 years, with the two years out being 2011-12 and 2012-13 (Hollinger’s Team Stats).

They’ve been a top-10 scoring team in nine out of 14 seasons, with their total points per game average dipping below 100 in only 2005-06 and 2011-12 (via ESPN.com).

Then we fast forward to this season. It’s early, but the numbers aren’t great. The Mavs are just 20th in offensive efficiency, tying 2011-12 for their lowest mark in the past 14 seasons. To add to that, they rank 25th in points per game with an average of just 98.0.

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It’s easy to say that the team has played just four games and that they didn’t have Dirk Nowitzki for half of them. There are plenty of excuses to make, but the fact of the matter is that the Mavs have an offensive problem so far.

The defensive efficiency of their first three opponents has not been all that great, as the Indiana Pacers are ranked 27th, the Houston Rockets are ranked 29th and the Utah Jazz are ranked 11th.

The Mavs have had scoring totals of 121, 98, 92 and 81 in their first four games of the season, which shows just how much they’ve struggled to score. The team is currently shooting 42 percent, which is better than just five other teams in the league.

If you take a look at the individual stats you won’t notice too many startling things, but if you dig a little deeper, you find that the Mavs lack the scoring depth that they had last season.

This year, the team has five players averaging double figures in J.J. Barea, Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes and Dirk Nowitzki. That’s the lineup they’ve use most this season as each of those five players play over 30 minutes a game, while Andrew Bogut starts but plays just 23.0 minutes per game.

There’s no differences between this season and last season as the same amount of players averaged double figures, but it’s the bench numbers that really make a difference.

Last season the Mavs’ entire bench unit averaged at least two points a game with eight different players averaging over four points a game.

This season, the rotation has been limited to just four players, as Dwight Powell, Seth Curry, Justin Anderson and Barea make up the bench. Players like Salah Mejri and Quincy Acy aren’t receiving consistent minutes, and when they do get in the game, they aren’t playing much.

That means they have only four players averaging at least four points off the bench this season compared the eight they had last year.

Again, as I’ve stated before, you can’t really take these numbers seriously right now because of how early it is in the season, but it is interesting to note the lack of weapons coming off the bench compared to the past few seasons, when the Mavs have had arguably some of the best bench units in the league.

Another notable stat to add to the discussion is the fact that the Mavs attempt the fourth most three-pointers in the league (33.3) while shooting just 33 percent from three.

A lot of their poor possessions have included a player walking up the floor and taking a three too early into the shot clock or a player being forced to throw up a wild shot with the clock running down.

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To sum things up, the Mavs have a lot of different issues they have to sort out, but their offense is one of their most concerning issues as it’s usually the side of their game that they rely on the most. Improvement in the standings isn’t going to come until they figure out how to improve their offensive attack.