The more things change the more they stay the same. The Mavericks have continued an unfortunate season trend of not being able to perform on the road, currently sporting a dismal 2-16 road record. Shining beneath the debris left behind by all these recent “L’s” is a star that can no longer be overlooked or hidden.
Luka Doncic is laying a foundation that can only be described as legendary and potentially Hall of Fame worthy. The clear-cut Rookie of The Year favorite is still averaging 19 points, six rebounds, and five assists. If upheld for the entire season, these are historic rookie numbers; however, the continued losing has cast a growing shadow on the potentially historic season.
We have reached the de facto start of the season (Christmas Day). Teams have been able to recognize what direction their club is headed and adjust accordingly. The Mavericks are 12th in the Western Conference, seven games behind the conference-leading Denver Nuggets and four games behind the 8th place San Antonio Spurs. The Mavs have struggled to produce road victories which has obviously been detrimental to their overall record. Through all this, the team has remained competitive. Currently, producing (110.6) and giving up (110.4) the same number of points per game. This is a huge indicator of just how fierce this season has been.
As of late, the team has begun a downward spiral of loses while Doncic, on the other hand, has remained consistent in his production. TPA (Total Points Added) is a stat used to measure the overall potency of a player. It incorporates both the defensive (Defensive Points Saved) and offensive (Offensive Points Added) effectiveness of a player on a per-possession basis. According to NBA Math, Doncic has the best offensive production among rookies, adding around 50 points to his team’s overall offensive makeup.
— NBA Math (@NBA_Math) January 1, 2019
Although his defensive points saved are mediocre, there is no denying Luka’s overall impact on the game is by far greater than any of his cohorts. This stat screams Rookie of the Year when compared to the rest of the field who are unable to keep up with Doncics’ offensive shenanigans and relative defensive consistency. A playoff birth is the most certain path to R.O.Y. honors so LD will no question be locked in down the stretch. The questions and mounting scrutiny will surround his supporting cast.
There is a scene in the great prison film “Life” where one of the main characters, Claude, is asked by Goldmouth (shown below) if he is going to finish a portion of his meal. Goldmouth is demanding Claude face the potential conflict head-on: either willfully give up that cornbread or have it taken. This is exactly where the Mavericks find themselves. No Goldmouth hasn’t signed with a club but his outdated mentality is still being used. The Mavs can succumb to the pressure of another losing streak and commence operation tank or rally the troops, secure some road wins and start a legitimate playoff push? The first step to legitimizing this push will no doubt include an improved emphasis on total team defense and rebounding as naturally, these statistics suffer when the team travels.
Rebounding at an even clip on the road is a losing formula. That gives credence to being consistently outscored as visitors. As the trade deadline approaches, only time will tell if the Mavs truly believe the current make-up of the team is capable of winning. Defensive toughness is an obvious need that must be addressed if this team is to make any progress towards the playoffs.
In the last ten games, the Mavs have only been able to secure two victories. The ten games prior to that they only suffered two losses. These twenty games put the team’s inconsistency on blast making any season outlook fuzzy and unpredictable. Trade rumors, mostly surrounding Dennis Smith Jr. & Wesley Matthews, are synonymous with talented teams so to a degree these talks are an expected price to pay for success. The team will be tasked with quieting the outside noise and merging the consistency of Doncic with wins, preferably on the road!
This season immediate success wasn’t anticipated but it’s clearly attainable when a star like 77 is on the squad! PLAYOFFS OR BUST!
Photo: Mavs.com (featured) Stats: http://nbamath.com/ http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/DAL/ Movie: Life (1999 film)