The Dallas Mavericks have raced out to a 2-0 start to begin the season. It's the first 2-0 start since 2019. And with a win tonight, it would be their first 3-0 start since 2004.
Luka Doncic is off to a scorching start. He's averaging 41.0 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game. Doncic has also gotten off to a hot start from three. So far, he's gone 12-of-25 from deep.
As for Doncic's co-star, Kyrie Irving, he hasn't looked as sharp. Yet, he's still averaging 19.5 points per game and adding value as a passer and rebounder. It's only a matter of time before Irving has an uber-efficient breakout game.
5 Dallas Mavericks who clearly need more playing time
Ancillary pieces, Tim Hardaway Jr. Grant Williams, Josh Green, and Dereck Lively II are all doing what they've been paid to do. Hardaway Jr. has already knocked down six threes, whereas Williams has made five from deep.
Green has shown some aggressiveness on offense while also playing with relentless energy on the defensive end. He's recorded two steals in each of the first two contests. Lively II has been a revelation at center. He's shooting 91.7 percent from the floor and has recorded seven dunks thus far.
Besides Doncic, the rest of the roster has looked good, but some impending changes look inevitable. Derrick Jones Jr. has started both games at the wing spot. However, Jones Jr. has averaged only 2.5 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per game. He hasn't made much of a difference on defense and is 0-of-4 from three.
And on the bench, longtime Maverick Maxi Kleber has struggled mightily. He hasn't looked as agile on defense this season and looks uncomfortable on offense. Kleber has gone 2-of-10 from the floor and hasn't made a three-pointer.
Despite Jones Jr. and Kleber's theoretical importance to the team, especially on defense, some other Mavs may be better suited to take over these roles. Also, it's been apparent that Dallas is still a poor defensive squad. A spark on the defensive side of the ball looks necessary at this point.
5. Dante Exum
Dante Exum might be just the player to provide that spark. Dallas allowed 119 points on opening night, then 120 points on Friday night.
First, Spurs guard Devin Vassell scored 23 points off a myriad of drives and mid-range jumpers. Then, Nets guard Cam Thomas went off for 30 points. Thomas also knocked down his fair share of mid-range jumpers and got to the rim with ease.
Exum has played less than ten minutes in each game. And, with little playing time, Exum hasn't been able to make a difference. However, in the preseason the former fifth-overall pick looked like a useful role player.
The Australian guard demonstrated the ability to defend multiple positions. He has a great combination of size and athleticism. Exum stands at 6-foot-5 and weighs around 215 pounds. He can defend quicker point guards and even some wings to take pressure off Irving and Doncic.
And, Exum isn't only a defensive ace. He's a talented playmaker who averaged 5.5 assists per game in the preseason. The Mavs' bench has only recorded 11 assists thus far.
Implementing Exum as the primary ball handler off the bench should equate to more playmaking.