Can the Dallas Mavericks win when they do not hit 3s?

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dallas Mavericks are 10-10 to begin the 2022-23 season, and many have been quick to blame their poor shooting start. Superstar Luka Doncic is putting up MVP numbers, but he is shooting just 31.5 percent from 3-point range. Dorian Finney-Smith sits at 33.3 percent, and Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, and Reggie Bullock are all under 31 percent on the year. The Mavs will shoot better, but can they win when their outside shots are not falling?

Dallas is currently fifth in the NBA with 39.5 3-point attempts per game, but they play at the league’s slowest pace. They take third-most threes as a percentage of their field goal attempts behind just the Warriors and Celtics but the Mavericks sit 19th in 3-point percentage.

With such a heavy percentage of 3-pointers in their shot diet, can the Mavs win when those jumpers are not falling? Let us take a closer look.

Can the Dallas Mavericks win when they do not hit 3s?

Fans have repeatedly seen the Mavs build leads when their outside shots are falling before quickly losing them when the misses pile up. Is the team’s success directly tied to their 3-point percentage? Dallas has shot over 39 percent seven times, and they have won five of those games. They have won just one of the six games where they shot under 31 percent.

Those numbers are not that uncommon in the modern NBA. It is a make-or-miss league. If the 3-point jumpers are not falling, teams struggle to win games.

Do the raw 3-point hits matter? The Mavericks are 3-7 when they made 12 or fewer threes, but they are just 4-3 when Dallas hits 15 or more. A surprising stat seems to matter more for the Mavericks so far.

When Dallas surpasses 40 3-point attempts, they are 4-6, but they are 5-2 when taking 38 or fewer tries. The Mavs have taken over 30 attempts in 19 of the 20 games, so they are going to fire away from long-range, but venturing over 40 could be too many. Dallas is 4-2 when they attempt 35 or fewer, which could be a nice sweet spot for this team.

Luka Doncic is carrying a massive workload to begin this season, and his teammates need to hit 3-pointers to draw the defense. Tim Cato wrote a fantastic piece (subscription required) about the team’s shooting that all fans need to read. His case is Dallas does not take enough two-pointers. That is true, but hitting more threes opens up the rim. The Mavs take a lot of open shots from 3-point range. If teams are forced to respect shooters, there is suddenly more room for number 77 and others to attack.

Can the Dallas Mavericks win when they do not make threes? The numbers suggest they struggle when their percentage dips below 31 and that taking too many 3-pointers can be problematic. It is still a small sample of 20 games, but the team is reliant on outside shots. The Mavs just have too many catch-and-shoot options on their roster not to be. Expect Dallas to shoot better moving forward and more victories to follow.

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