As the Dallas Mavericks wrap up the third week of the season, it is time to take a look at what’s going right and wrong for the squad.
The Dallas Mavericks are nine games into their schedule, and things are beginning to come into focus. The roster is almost fully healthy. We are starting to see the strengths and weaknesses of this team, and how that’s going to translate into wins and losses. What follows are some thoughts about the season so far both the good (Makes) and the bad (Misses).
The Mavericks are finally competitive again.
Yes, Dallas is on a six-game losing streak, but every one of those losses has been a close game. They’re losing by an average of six points per contest. Only the season-opener against the Suns was a bad loss.
This is especially impressive considering how much roster instability the Mavericks have dealt with so far this year. Eventually, Rick Carlisle will settle into a rotation that works and Dallas will be even more competitive. I think by December you won’t see many debacles like the Atlanta game.
Doncic has not disappointed
It’s only nine games, but Luka Doncic has been everything we heard he would be. He’s scoring, facilitating the offense, and rebounding. And from the way it looks to me, he’s doing all this while playing himself into shape. The Mavericks wanted him to take the summer off after playing such a demanding schedule the past two years. I think it’s safe to say he did.
I’m excited to see what Doncic can do in a couple of seasons after he’s had a few summers in an NBA training program. If what we’re seeing right now is out of shape Doncic, the rest of the league should be worried.
Bad losses are bad
First, there was a missed opportunity against the Spurs. Dennis Smith Jr. missed a key free throw that would have given the Mavericks a late lead.
Then against the Lakers on Halloween, Wesley Matthews committed a terrible foul against LeBron James, effectively killing the Mavs’ comeback attempt. It was a bad end to a bad road trip.
But like I mentioned before, these have all been close games, and I think eventually Dallas will stop making mental mistakes late in games and win some of these tight contests.
DSJ is struggling
Yes, Dennis Smith Jr. hit a game-winner against the Timberwolves. And he blew up for 27 points against Utah, tying a career high. But so far this season, Smith has struggled to adjust to his new off-ball role. He looks indecisive on offense and isn’t focusing on defense.
There have been too many games this season when he’s been passive, refusing to attack. This isn’t ideal, but it’s important to remember that Smith is just in his second year as a pro, and hasn’t even turned 21 yet. He’s only 83 games into his NBA career, and there will be some inconsistency while he finds his footing. Mavs fans have to be patient.
The Mavs get a little break this week. They face the imploding Washington Wizards at home before flying to Salt Lake City to take on the Jazz.
Last week was a tough travel week for Dallas, playing five games in eight days, four of which were on the road. That schedule probably had a lot to do with some of the Mavericks’ late-game mistakes.
Hopefully by this time next week, Dallas will have broken this losing streak and added a couple wins to their record.