The Mavs lost again, but let’s do like the coaches say and analyze the new guys we have to make decisions on the future.
Last night, the Mavs fell to the Wizards in the final minutes of what was a fairly entertaining game, losing 132-123. Especially after losing the previous 2 games by 30 and 39 points each, this game felt like playoff level effort. The Mavs held it close, but ultimately fell to the team directly below them in the standings, now making both teams tied for 7th worst record in the NBA. And in case we’ve convinced you of the need to tank here, that increases the Mavs from 20.3% chance at a top 4 pick to a 29.4% chance. Close losses, while still heartbreaking, are a lot more fun to watch than 30+ point blowouts.
The Mavericks battled the Wizards all night, with the lead changing 15 times and 9 ties in the game, until Jeff Green hit back to back 3pt daggers to put the game out of reach in the final 3 minutes of play. This game saw major contributions from Luka Doncic who scored 31 (which now seems about right every game) and Dwight Powell who continued his blazing hot streak of scoring 26 on 11 of 12 from the field.
This game was emblematic of the Mavericks post All Star Break problems. They can score in bunches, but not consistently for 48 minutes. They can’t defend the paint or rebound very effectively (especially with Kleber being a late scratch). And mostly they cannot close out a game that is winnable. So with this game being somewhat more of the same over the past month, let’s use it as a mechanism to look at the Maverick careers of the newest Mavs brought in over the trade deadline.
Justin Jackson had the single most productive outing of his short Maverick career. Jackson scored 18 pts, going 5 of 7 from deep. For perspective, Justin had only scored 9 total points in the previous 4 games. He appears to be getting in the flow of the new system and is using it to make the most of his minutes. Last night he played over 25 minutes, the most since joining the team, pulled down 5 rebounds and was only a -1 in +/-. Jackson’s development would give the Mavericks another much needed young and versatile wing to pair with Finney-Smith next year if this trend continues.
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 17 points on 7 of 15 shooting. He has continued to be the player we knew we were getting from New York because his role has ostensibly remained the same. He is a high volume shooter expected to score as much as he possibly can as the first or second option on the floor. His 3 point shot has not gotten better and has hovered right around 30% since he donned a Mavericks jersey. Fear not! Next year he won’t be asked to be the first, second or possibly third best scoring option, so his averages should go up not having to take any shot that comes his way. There is absolutely value in what Tim Hardaway brings to the Mavs, but judging it off what he is being asked to do right now is not that.
On the opposite end of the trade deadline spectrum, Trey Burke and Courtney Lee did not contribute to the Mavs in really meaningful ways last night. Trey Burke received a DNP-CD (Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision) and Courtney Lee only saw 8 minutes.
Trey remains a feast or famine kind of utility guard in Carlisle’s arsenal and it seems last night was a lean famine night for him. He’s averaged nearly 15 min a game since coming to Dallas and 7.6 points, but the individual box scores show it’s really of roller coaster of both minutes and points. One can only assume it is a matchup driven decision for when Trey will play and he is a score first guard in a game with plenty of scoring. He could potentially play spot minutes for the rest of the season, but his role next season almost entirely hinges on the health of JJ Barea. If Barea can return in a timely manner from his Achilles injury, you might not see much more of Trey Burke in Mavs blue.
Courtney Lee is still quite the conundrum as a Maverick through the first month here. On paper, he should be a Carlisle favorite. He’s a savvy veteran who can defend and shoot the 3 ball reasonably well off the bench, however, he can’t seem to get on the court. Last night he saw 8 productive minutes for the Mavs that saw him go 1 for 2 from 3 and defend well enough to be the second best +/- on the team at +5! Granted that’s an easier task in such a short stint, but he played well enough to potentially contribute more. I’m not sure what the team thinks of Courtney outside of his salary and it shows in his playing time. The only times he’s broken into double digit minute totals have been in all 4 previous blowouts. While he can contribute more, it seems that his fate as a Maverick is to be a contract that can either be stretched or traded.
These 4 Mavericks and their mixed contributions are not enough to help the Mavericks win games down the stretch. That’s not a new revelation as the Mavs have won just 1 of the last 9 games.
While winning might not be the actual strategy, it is revealing what the probable fates of these 4 players are after the end of the season.
Featured Image: Associated Press