The Dallas Mavericks are a strange constant force in the Western Conference playoff picture. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t the San Antonio Spurs or anything. But, Rick Carlisle has been finding a way to keep his squad relevant all these years.
The 2016-17 team has started 0-5, a worse start than the 2006-07 season. The gaudy win totals of that season are out of reach for the current iteration of this team. There have been five bad games and all we can analyse must be derived from a small sample size.
Nonetheless, there are things that we can take from those minutes on the court. Here are some observations on why the horsepower is down in Dallas:
Carlisle’s offense has been a steady stream of ball movement and off the ball cuts in the last few years. Having Dirk Nowitzki as a an elite floor-spacing big man has helped in recent years. This season, Dirk has had trouble staying on the court as his age continues to climb.
The lack of the sweet-shooting big isn’t the only cause for worry here. Chandler Parsons is in Memphis now and the Mavs have struggled to identify a wing player that can bring them some of the same skills offensively.
With a newer roster, the team needs a steady diet of pick and roll with Dwight Powell and shooters surrounding him. Sound familiar? That might be because this plan was how the club used Tyson Chandler during his time in the Lone Star State.
Nice clean looks come from this action as opposed to watching Andrew Bogut hold the ball at the elbow waiting for some playmaker to come get the ball. It’ll be worth exploring as the season goes on.
Speaking of Bogut, he has had a rough start to his time in Dallas. There was a glimpse of hope against Houston but, for the most part, he has been largely ineffective.
The reason that I suggested Powell as a pick and roll option in the last section is because the Australian big man hasn’t attempted a single shot as the roll man during his tenure in Texas.
On offense, he is going to have to do more than merely hang out near the free throw line and pass.
Most startlingly, Bogut and Dirk have been a -60.8 rating on the court together in 22 minutes of action. Two of the most important players on the roster have been incapable of working alongside each other. This needs to change for the Mavs to have a shot at the playoffs.
Getting Barnes More Involved
Harrison Barnes was the big free agency target for Dallas this year. He has performed well in his stint and maybe that holds the key for turning this around.
The young forward is shooting 50 percent from the floor and has been devastating as the roll man in pick and roll sets. He’s scoring one and a half points per possession as the roll man with no turnovers.
Needless to say he should probably be seeing the ball a bit more, especially with Dirk injured. The path seems clear, spread the floor out, maximize your stars skills and figure out how to get your slumping players on the right track.