3 returning Mavericks who have drastically improved this season

Dallas Mavericks v Milwaukee Bucks
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1. Tim Hardaway Jr.

Coming off of a rougher campaign in the 2022-23 season after returning from foot surgery in 2022, Tim Hardaway Jr. is playing as good of basketball as he’s ever played so far for Dallas this year. Hardaway Jr. has been a hallmark of consistency for Dallas this season, as he’s trended away from occasional horrendous shooting nights by being much more proficient with his shot diet.

Hardaway Jr. is averaging the most field goal attempts per game (13.7 currently) since his 2018-19 stretch with Dallas which only spanned 19 games. Hardaway Jr. is getting to the rim a lot more and is also doing a great job working the in-between game as the lead ball handler in the pick-and-roll.

He’s currently shooting 39.6% from 3-point range, and that’s after a down night against the Los Angeles Lakers, where he went 2-10 from the field. Hardaway Jr. is playing better defense as well, even though he still isn’t a high-profile defender, as he’s doing a great job at taking charges and making the right rotations within the Mavericks’ defensive scheme.

Hardaway Jr. has come off the bench for Dallas this year and is actually averaging fewer minutes per game, yet he is scoring more points per last game than last year at 17.5 points per game this season.

If Hardaway Jr. keeps up this level of efficiency and continues to be more multifaceted on offense compared to the extreme reliance he’s had on 3-pointers during stretches in the past with Dallas, then he’ll be poised to be in the conversation to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award. That being said, it’s abundantly clear that Hardaway Jr. is one of Dallas’ most improved players from last season, and shouldn't be on the hot seat to be traded just quite yet.

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