Dallas Mavericks: What is the cause of the Mavericks early slump?

MEMPHIS, TN - OCTOBER 26: Dirk Nowitzki
MEMPHIS, TN - OCTOBER 26: Dirk Nowitzki /

The Dallas Mavericks are coming off of a tough loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. What are the causes of the team’s early-season struggles?

The Dallas Mavericks are coming off of a tough loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. The Mavericks struggles were fairly unexpected considering the immediate rise of rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why the Mavericks are struggling.

The Mavericks got handled against the T’Wolves on Saturday and it exposed several problems in their offense that are starting to look like patterns. Sure Dallas played an up and coming Minnesota team that has talented players such as Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Jimmy Butler but the team was just outplayed in every aspect of the game.

The biggest issue seemed to be the fact that the Wolves shut down Harrison Barnes in the second half completely removing one of the Dallas Mavericks stars from the game. The rest of the starting lineup did not fare any better and Dennis Smith Jr still is seemingly the lone bright spot in what has been an abysmal season so far.

Dirk Nowitzki is a legend and will enter the Hall of Fame when it is all said and done but is there any real reason he is currently in the starting lineup? I mean he played 22 minutes, went 3 for 8 and scored 7 points, which is about right for a player his age.

He could have been more efficient from the field but given his age, you cannot expect significant offensive output from Nowitzki at this point in his career. What has been somewhat surprising is that he has been terrible on defense.

The Mav’s have moved him to guard opposing centers instead of athletic power forwards and still that is not enough. He just cannot be relied on defensively anymore as he is just not effective. One thing is clear, the Mav’s have no idea who should be in their starting lineup as head coach Rick Carlisle has changed the starting lineup six times.

To make matters worse, DSJ, Wesley Matthews, and Nowitzki are shooting under 40 percent from the field, and no matter what team we are talking about, if three of your starters are shooting that poorly, winning games is an impossibility.

Until Seth Curry returns to the lineup we will likely not see a change in the way this offense runs and the team will still continue to struggle from the field. The guards so far this season, have done their part as DSJ, Devin Harris, and J.J. Barea all had over 10 points along with a multitude of assists.

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Another issue has been that this team cannot start out hot, in both the first and second halves of games the Mavericks have struggled mightily to put up points. This is affecting the Mav’s ability to control the game and keep an early lead.

The last issue that is affecting the Mavericks has to be how they are handling Nerlens Noel. The mentality seems to be that Noel will be an unrestricted free agent this summer so the Mav’s are giving him a light workload and keeping him under the radar.

One of the problems with that is Noel is the best rebounder on the team by far. He is more effective on the court than anyone currently in that role, he could even start at Dirk’s position and at least allow for the offense to have more second-chance opportunities.

This is all because the Mav’s do not want Noel to be poached from them over the summer which is a very real possibility. Noel did not sign a long-term deal with Dallas and depending on how this season goes could be out of the door anyway.

The Dallas Mavericks are caught between looking out for their future and celebrating their past, and so far have done a poor job balancing that in the present. They have pieces for a competitive team but not many that could be kept around.

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Wesley Matthews and Harrison Barnes both need to transcend into superstar players and right now that does not seem to be happening. The Dallas Mavericks need to answer a lot of questions about their past and present before they can move on with their future.