The Dallas Mavericks have kicked off the 2019 calendar year, so let us look back and review the first seven games of the new year.
The Dallas Mavericks are pushing for the playoffs this season. They need to play well the rest of the way to secure a spot. Let us review the first seven games in Jan. 2019.
Playoff odds (via FiveThirtyEight): on 1/1/2018: 4 percent; on 1/15/2018; 4 percent
Dallas managed to get out of the losing streak at the end of last year and began to alternate victories and defeats. The Mavericks could have gone through the first half of the month with a winning record, but they lost to the Lakers without LeBron.
The most important and sad happening of the action was the injury to J.J. Barea that ended his season. The loss of J.J. put Dallas in a very difficult position in the fight for the postseason and sparked rumors of possible trades involving them.
DSJ playing better, but maybe not for Dallas
In November, I already wrote about Dennis Smith Jr‘s driving skills in his first season. There I noted that he has problems with the accuracy of his shots, especially in the area of three to ten feet. In this case, you need to look for alternative ways to complete the plays.
Luckily for the Mavs, there were some changes. First, Smith Jr. began to make fewer drives. Starting the season with about 13 drives per game (at the level of last year), in the last contest, he only attempted nine. If you take the last five games, DSJ only produced eight drives per game.
Secondly, Smith Jr. began to rely more on his teammates and not finish attacks independently. The same charts show that starting the season with about the same percentage of shots and passes in the region of 40. In recent games, the proportion has changed to 50-30 in favor of passes. It is also worth noting that these passes themselves have become better (the percentage of assists has almost doubled).
The indicative game is the meeting against Charlotte, where for nine drives DSJ never made a basket and produced nine passes, four of which were assists.
These are useful changes, but given the growing rumors about the trade, they may be useful to another team.