Bleacher Report disrespects Luka Doncic and the Mavericks with recent grade

Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks
Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

The Dallas Mavericks are having a great season thus far. After a much-maligned end to last season, the Mavs are already playoff hopefuls. And while it might not mean much in the present NBA, Dallas is well on their way to winning the Southwest Division.

Throughout the offseason, Dallas dealt with numerous doubters. From the NBA General Managers to different media outlets, no one expected the Mavericks to contend in the Western Conference.

This time, another Dallas doubter has emerged. While receiving a "B grade" in this article isn't too degrading, the Mavs deserve at minimum, a B+, especially after last year's debacle.

Bleacher Report disrespects Luka Doncic and the Mavericks with recent grade

The recent grade came from Bleacher Report's "NBA Report Cards: Grading Every Team's 1st Quarter of the 2023-24 Season" article. Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey alluded to Luka Doncic's dominance as a reason why Dallas is above .500.

While Doncic's statistics are incredible, the rest of the roster has performed much better than a season ago. Bailey mentioned Kyrie Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr. in his blurb about Dallas but failed to recognize any role players.

The Bleacher Report writer finished the Maverick's section by saying, "The roster sort of falls off after that (at least from a statistical perspective)" about the contributors outside of Doncic, Irving, and Hardaway Jr.

Assessing Dallas from a statistical standpoint is quite easy to do. However, a more in-depth analysis would shine a light on the less-advertised contributors.

For instance, the Mavs' new starting center, Dereck Lively II, has played above and beyond expectations. The 19-year-old big man is averaging 9.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. His stats may seem modest, but his rim-running skills and backline defense are imperative to Dallas' success.

Dallas is a much better team with Lively II on the floor. The Mavericks are more than 10 points better when Lively II's on the court as opposed to when he sits.

However, the former Duke big man isn't the only top-notch role player on the roster. Offseason acquisitions Derrick Jones Jr., Grant Williams, and Dante Exum have played vital roles in the Mavericks successes.

Jones Jr. has transformed into a valuable 3-and-D asset. The athletic wing is averaging a career-high 9.6 points per game. He's also knocking down a career-high 1.6 3-pointers per game on a 37.4 percent clip. For reference, Jones Jr. has never made more than 0.7 threes per game in any season before this year.

Although Williams has seen a subtle decline in recent weeks, he provides immense value as a floor-spacer for Doncic and Irving. He's shooting above 40 percent from downtown on 5.7 attempts per game.

Finally, Exum has been sensational in recent weeks. Exum leads Dallas in plus/minus and ranks in the top 45 in the NBA in plus/minus at plus-4.6. The Mavericks are an incredible 20.6 points per game better when Exum graces the court.

Despite the B grade, Dallas has assuredly exceeded expectations this year. The Doncic and Irving partnership has flourished, and the Dallas role players have played well. Look for continued improvement from Lively II and Exum. Additionally, second-year player Jaden Hardy still has ample time to come into his own.