We are halfway through the Dallas Mavericks 2013-14 season, and that means it’s time for a little mid-season evaluation.
Spoiler alert, as much as it pains me to say it, the results point to the Mavericks being nothing more than a borderline playoff team. We’re talking seventh seed at best.
Ask the Mavs’ Hall of Fame forward, and he’ll tell you that’s even overestimating this team. Less than two weeks ago, Dirk was quoted saying “I don’t think we’re a playoff team.”
And after evaluating the numbers, he might just be right.
The opposition would argue “how can you say that? The Mavericks are one of the most explosive offensive teams in the league. They can beat any team in the NBA with that offense.”
Well, I’m a believer in the notion that over a sustained period of time numbers don’t lie. I would think that 40 games qualifies as a sustained period, so let’s go to the numbers, shall we?
Yes, the Mavericks are a good offensive team. In fact, a very good offensive team. Dallas is in the top eight in the league in five of the major offensive categories. They are eighth in the league in points per game (103.7), fourth in field goal percentage (47%), seventh in three pointers made per game (8.7), sixth in three point field goal percentage (38.1%), and third in free throw percentage (79.7%).
There’s no doubt, the Mavs can score with the best of them.
But for every great offensive stat, there’s an abysmal defensive one. Dallas is 21st in opponent points per game (101.9), 24th in opponent field goal percentage (46.2%), 22nd in blocks per game (4.4), and they allow opponents to get to the free throw line 25.6 times per game, good for third most in the league. They have held opponents to under 100 points in only 19 of their 40 games, and in three of those 19 games the opponent scored 99.
Whether it’s can’t, won’t or don’t, there’s no way around it – the Mavericks are simply a bad defensive team. It is their Achilles heel, and it’s exactly what prevents them from being considered a legitimate contender.
Consider this: For as good as an offensive team as they are, the Mavs point differential this year is only +1.8. Compare that with the top three teams in the West: San Antonio (+8.1), Portland (+6.3), and Oklahoma City (+7.1). And in case you were wondering, during the 2010-11 championship season, Dallas had a point differential of +4.2 in the regular season to go with a +5.7 differential in the playoffs.
The reality is Shawn Marion is the only solid defender Dallas has on their roster, and he’s no baby lamb. Their perimeter defense is dreadful, and they have nobody that comes close to protecting the rim (don’t get me started on Dalembert).
You just can’t consistently count on scoring 110 points in order to win.
If the Mavericks want to become true contenders in the second half of the season, they are going to have to play better on the defensive side of the ball. They lack the individual talent, so team defense is going to be the key. So as much as I hate to say it, if they can’t figure that out, we’re looking at another fight for the eighth seed.