Dallas Mavericks' bench piece unexpectedly turns into dominant starter

Utah Jazz v Dallas Mavericks
Utah Jazz v Dallas Mavericks / Sam Hodde/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

The Dallas Mavericks are riding a four-game winning streak. Recently, the Mavs beat the NBA In-Season Tournament Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, 127-125.

Headband Luka Doncic led the way as he dropped in a double-double with 33 points and 17 assists. Doncic also hit a seven-foot jumper during the final two minutes to help extend Dallas' lead.

His counterpart, Tim Hardaway Jr., also stole the show with 32 points. Hardaway Jr. knocked down 50 percent of his attempted 3-pointers. The Mavs' sixth man has been thriving in his new role, averaging 16.9 points per game.

Dallas Mavericks' bench piece unexpectedly turns into dominant starter

Hardaway Jr. currently ranks third in NBA Sixth Man of the Year Power Rankings. Only Cole Anthony and Austin Reaves ranked ahead of the Dallas guard.

However, there was another Maverick who put the team on his back. Defensive star Dante Exum did his part as he scored 26 points while shooting 80 percent from the field. Exum also knocked down a career-high seven 3-pointers against the Lakers.

Exum's success has helped Dallas continue performing at a high level. Against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, he dropped in 23 points, seven assists, and six rebounds.

So, what's been the difference for the 6-foot-5 guard?

For starters, it's possible his new role could be the difference. Exum has started the past four games for Dallas.

As a starter, he is averaging 17.5 points per game, six rebounds, and 5.8 assists. Exum made his first official start for Dallas Wednesday against the Utah Jazz. He did a little of everything in the game, as he had five points, seven assists, six rebounds, and two steals.

Exum's confidence has played a role in his turnaround. He recently spoke about the change and his approach to the game.

"Other teams started putting their five on me, so ever since then, I've been in the gym just working, you know, credit to the staff and even our players for constantly trusting me to shoot the ball and just pass to me, but I think it was just having trust in myself to keep shooting."

Dante Exum

He showed a ton of confidence against the Lakers. He attempted nine 3-points as he wasn't afraid to shoot and the Lakers were leaving him open.

In the video above, you can see the trust his teammates have for him. Hardaway Jr. is able to distract the defense and find Exum open in the corner. The Mavs guard then shows confidence in his ability to catch and shoot the ball without hesitation.

Hopefully, Exum's confidence can continue in December. He is averaging 14.7 points per game this month. This is a 9.2 increase from the month prior.

So, what are the chances Dallas continues to ride with Exum in the starting lineup? Could things change once everyone is healthy?

Either way Dallas has a tough decision to make. The team is 4-0 with Exum in the starting lineup. If his numbers continue to rise than the Mavs may have a dilemma on their hands.

Stay tuned for the latest on Dante Exum and the Dallas Mavericks.

manual