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Dallas Mavericks need a ball-handler in the worst way: Why haven’t they added one?

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dallas Mavericks are fresh off a run to the Western Conference Finals, and they thought that would only improve their chances of re-signing Jalen Brunson. The 25-year-old had a breakout fourth NBA season in Dallas, but he decided to join the New York Knicks in free agency. There Brunson can be the lead ball-handler and he gets to be with his family.

Luka Doncic and the Mavs lost their second-leading scorer, but they traded for Christian Wood, who averaged over 19 points and nearly ten rebounds per game during his two seasons in Houston. Dallas has a number two scorer, but they cannot currently replace Brunson’s ball-handling and playmaking chops.

The Mavericks took their offense to another level last season when they began playing two ball-handlers on the floor at all times. Now, Dallas only has two playmakers. Head coach Jason Kidd noted that Spencer Dinwiddie will join Luka in the starting five, but he will be forced to stagger their minutes to ensure one of them is leading the offense at all times.

Dallas Mavericks need a ball-handler in the worst way: Why haven’t they added one?

Coach Kidd experimented with starting Jalen Brunson last season before permanently inserting him on Dec. 12 in the team’s 26th game. The Mavericks' offense improved significantly after they acquired Spencer Dinwiddie at the deadline from the Wizards. They had an offensive rating of 110.3, which ranked 16th in the NBA before the trade, and that number jumped to 117.7 with Dinwiddie in Dallas.

The Mavs had the sixth-best offensive rating in the playoffs at 113.9, and they were top five when factoring out the three games Luka Doncic missed because of a calf injury. Dallas had a better offense when they had two ball-handlers on the floor last season, so why haven’t they added another playmaker?

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