In defense of Reggie Bullock: How the Mavericks' injuries are affecting his shooting

Dallas Mavericks, Reggie Bullock
Dallas Mavericks, Reggie Bullock / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

“Bullock for three!”

This a common broadcast phrase that Mavs fans have come to dread this season.

Reggie Bullock has not been good this year for the Mavericks. Last year was the same, until around wintertime when he hit his annual hot streak and became a crucial contributor in the playoffs. 

That hot streak is late this year, with his 3-point percentage currently hovering at 33 percent. He shot 37 percent from three in December, good, but not the blistering shooting Dallas hoped for or needed. The frustration is real, and Mavs fans need answers. So what gives? Has he regressed, or is he on the verge of breaking out?

I think the answer might lie in his past and the Mavs’ injuries, specifically, the absence of Dorian Finney-Smith.

Dallas Mavericks giving Reggie Bullock too much to handle

The short story is that Bullock is simply a good role player, and injuries have forced the Mavs to ask more of him than he can handle.

Let’s add some context first by looking at his most recent and best shooting years. Be prepared for a lot of percent signs.

In the 2017-18 season with the Pistons, Bullock shot 44.5 percent from distance, and with the Knicks in 2020-21, he shot 41 percent. Both of those teams had at least three other players who shot over 38 percent on their 3-pointers.

Now, let’s look at his last worst shooting year, 2018-19. 38.8 percent with the Pistons, and then a drop to 34.3 percent after being traded to the Lakers. Why did his shot fall off despite it being the second half of the season, where he usually thrives?

The best shooter on the Pistons team was Luke Kennard, at 39.4 percent. On the Lakers? Ignoring Alex Caruso, who started four games the entire season, Rajon Rondo, who shot a scorching 35.9 percent.

This tells us that Bullock thrives when he’s one of the best shooters on a team. Less good shooters perhaps means a less good Bullock. 

That’s where Finney-Smith and Dallas’ injuries come in.

The Mavericks have Spencer Dinwiddie and Christian Wood shooting 40.5 percent and 38.5 percent from three, but Bullock is the only viable shooting wing left on the team with injuries to Maxi Kleber, Josh Green, and, most importantly, Finney-Smith. This seems to have disrupted his usual winter hot streak.

Before Doe-Doe's injury, Bullock began December looking like he was on the verge of breaking out, shooting 40 percent from long range. Post Finney-Smith injury, Bullock is only 30.7 percent from distance, and that’s including his eight of ten scorcher against the Blazers.

Not only has Bullock been relied upon to be the best catch-and-shoot wing on the team, but he’s also been tasked with guarding the best opposing player on a team missing three of its top four defenders.

Things might continue to be rough for Bullock for a while. That’s not necessarily an indictment on Bullock, but it’s more on the depth of the Mavericks roster and some unluckiness. Nevertheless, the Mavs need him, no matter how bad he currently looks.

That being said, keep an eye on him with the return of Finney-Smith on the horizon. With more defensive help and less attention, his resurgence could be on the way.

Next. 5 under-the-radar trade targets for the Mavs. dark