Dallas Mavericks First Quarter Report Card
Updated: Jan 15, 2020
The NBA season is roughly a quarter of the way through and its report card time. As a kid, handing over your report card to your parents was either a moment of pride or a moment of panic. For the Dallas Mavericks, this season has kicked off far quicker than most people had imagined.
Luka Doncic: A-
Ken Blaze-USA Today
Doncic is already in discussion for the league’s MVP award. He’s won the first Player of the Month award for his play during October and November and he’s averaging nearly a triple-double through his first 21 games. What’s crazier than a 20-year old doing all of that, is that he still has room to improve.
His 3-point percentage is below average, and his tendency to launch it from deep, even when it’s not falling is not ideal. However, this is a young team that has been given the green light to shoot three’s often, so when he starts to find his rhythm, and when he doesn’t have to put the game on his shoulders each night, his game will go to another level.
He is leading the team in points per game, rebounds, assists, and steals. For right now, he is the Dallas Mavericks.
Kristaps Porzingis: C+
Kevin Jairaj-USA Today
Porzingis had been away from the game for 20 months rehabbing from an injury. If you thought he’d step onto the court as a Maverick and immediately return to his old ways, then maybe you haven’t paid attention to previous players coming back from an ACL injury. On top of needing time away to recover, he’s on a brand new team.
He has shown signs of potential this year, but he hasn’t quite hit his stride yet. Which sounds similar to what some of my high school teachers said about me.
What Porzingis has been doing well is rebounding and defending. Which is exactly what this team needs from him. His rebounding average is up from 6.6 per game (in his previous season played as a Knick) to 8.9 per game.
His shooting is still far from polished. Overall, his percentages are well below previous seasons. Many figured it would take time for him to get back into a groove, so I won’t harp on him too much here, but there is hope that things soon will bounce back in his favor.
Everyone else: B+
Tim Heitman-USA Today
Doncic and Porzingis are the only players who have started in every game they’ve played in so far this season. So it’s hard to give out a grade to any other individual player when their role and responsibility changes frequently.
As a group, they’ve been able to help lead the Mavericks to a 15-6 record and firmly entrenched in the Western Conference playoff hunt. On any given night, someone else beyond the big two is stepping up to either maintain a lead or create one. While their numbers aren’t going to jump out at you, the depth has made the difference for this team.
Dorian Finney-Smith has been a defensive stalwart and has started the most games behind the big two. Once inserted into the starting lineup, Tim Hardaway Jr. seems to have found his calling as the third man leading the charge. Even Dwight Powell, who has had a rough start to the season, recently went 9-9 from the field, 2-2 from three, on his way to scoring 24 points.
Area’s of Strength
Scoring Points - The Mavericks are fourth in the league in total points per game, and currently have the highest offensive rating in the league. This is pretty remarkable when you consider that only three players are averaging double-digit point totals.
Rebounding - This is a big surprise for most Maverick fans. They sit fifth overall in rebounds per game as a team, which was an area of concern coming into the season.
Bench Play - The Dallas bench has the highest net rating in the league, as well as being top five in points per game, and minutes per game. It’s clear, this team has quality guys they can rely on.
Area’s of Improvement
Protecting the Paint - Outside of Porzingis, no one on this team can defend the rim at a high level. They are 24th overall in blocked shots, which isn’t a clear indicator of being able to protect the paint, but there are times when their opponent can get into the lane and score with ease.
Free Throws - As a team, they are shooting slightly over 77% from the line, which is good for 13th overall. Not terrible, but also not great. A few games have been decided already by missed free throws, and this should be an area the team focuses on if they want to make a deep playoff run.
Three-Point Shooting - Shooting 36% from three, the Mavericks are slightly over league average. The problem though is that they are attempting the second most three’s per game. If they could even improve a little bit on this front, it would go a long way in putting games out of reach early.
Before the season started, many projected this team to be either a fringe playoff team hoping to sneak in as an 8th seed or as a team on the outside looking in. As of right now, this team is well on their way to finishing as one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Luka Doncic is in the MVP race discussion and every few games the team seems to be able to figure out another piece to the season-long puzzle. It’s been a great start to the season, now let’s see how they navigate the next quarter.