One worrying stat helps to explain the Dallas Mavericks’ slow start

Luka Doncic (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Luka Doncic (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Following a string of shaky performances by the Dallas Mavericks, there’s increased concern about their offense. Luka Doncic, of course, is the Dallas Mavericks’ offense, for better and for worse but mostly for the better. Still, having a player with nearly 40% usage is alarming, even if that player is averaging 33.6 points per game. It implies that either there aren’t enough playmakers on the roster or that Doncic is playing selfishly. I can tell you that it’s the former and that the Mavericks can’t continue to play this way and expect better results.

Part of the issue is how the team is constructed. It was designed to play to Doncic’s strengths by surrounding him with spot-up shooters and athletic rim runners to take advantage of his passing ability, but the team lacks ball handling, forcing Doncic to play more on-ball. As a result, they’ve become overly dependent on him.

The Dallas Mavericks have to get away from Luka-ball.

Ideally, Doncic could take plays off on offense to rest while still being a spot-up threat, while someone else brings the ball up the floor and deals with being pressured. Spencer Dinwiddie can do that, and his ability to create out of the pick and roll is also helpful, but it’s not something the Mavericks can count on for all of the 36.8 minutes a night that Doncic plays.

Christian Wood has also been huge for them in his new role as a super sub. He’s a highly efficient scorer who can get buckets in the post and is a pick-and-roll or pop threat, giving them someone who can help carry the offense when Doncic is off the court, particularly in the second and fourth quarters. Still, they could definitely use more. After all, even “bad” teams, such as the Jazz and Spurs, have several playmakers that they can rely on to create for themselves and others.

Take San Antonio, which has the same number of wins despite not having anyone nearly as talented as Doncic. Despite that talent gap, they have a much more balanced offense than Dallas, with Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Tre Jones, Josh Richardson, and Jakob Poeltl all sharing playmaking responsibilities, giving the Spurs plenty of options.

The Mavericks don’t have that luxury, so Luka-ball it is, for the time being, at least. Fortunately, it’s a fixable issue but will require them to make a trade. Derrick Rose could be an option given that the Knicks play their starting guards big minutes and he’s only averaging around 13 minutes per game.

Therefore, he could probably be had for a second-round pick or two, and he may be worth it for Dallas and would have a bigger role since he’s a trusted ball-handler and reliable scorer. Or, maybe the Mavericks are weighing their options for a bigger deal, and they do have big salaries like Davis Bertans and Tim Hardaway Jr. that would be needed to match salaries.

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Ultimately, the Dallas Mavericks cannot continue to rely solely on Doncic to carry their offense and must work to diversify it. However, given the roster’s construction, it would likely require a trade.