It's been a rough going for Dallas lately, and although they have had their struggles with safety protocols, they need to work with what they possess.
Kristaps Porzingis has only played in 13 games this season, but he will be the focal point for this article and should also be the key to the Mavericks offense. With the starting lineup outside of Doncic and Porizingis consisting of Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smth, and Maxi Kleber, the Mavericks have struggled from behind the line so far this season. They are currently 10th in the NBA in attempted threes per game, yet they are 30th in three-point percentage at 33.8%. Their offense is currently 16th out of 30th in the league, so you might think that the Maverick's defense is stifling their opponents, well, you'd be incorrect. They are currently 26th in the league in defensive rating, and I'll tell you right now, they are missing Seth Curry.
When Kristaps Porzingis was reintroduced into the starting lineup, it was clear he wasn't 100%, plus the Mavs weren't using him to his full potential. Because he was not fully healthy, he was settling for deep threes and/or deep mid-range shots. Therefore, he was not getting into the paint as much as he should've been.
However, in Saturday's game against the Warriors, Porzingis appeared fresh, as he went for 18 and was able to stick in the paint for 10 rebounds. As he continues to get his legs back, his three-point shot continues to look rusty, as he also went 0/3 on three-point attempts vs. the Warriors. He's shooting just 31% from three on 6.2 attempts per game this season. What I noticed about those 18 points is that a healthy portion of them came from within the paint. Now, the Warriors defense did their job to prevent Porzingis from converting the majority of his shots, as they held him to 38.9% from the field. Despite the poor field goal percentage, I admired the shots that he took, as they were shots that he would normally knock down.
A principal reason to the cause of why the Mavericks have started the season so poorly is due to the lack of three-point shooting. When Luka Doncic drives to the hoop, he needs to have weapons on the perimeter that he can pass to. Finney-Smith can be that weapon at times, but he's not been that threat this season, shooting 33.8% from three. Tim Hardaway is the better option, but his inconsistency is noticeable. If Trey Burke or Jalen Brunson is in the game the same time that Luka is, he will often find one of them lingering in the corner or the wing for an open three, and they will typically knock them down. Maxi Kleber, however, has been the x-factor from deep this season for the Mavericks, shooting 45.8% from deep in his 13 games played. Another cause of the Mavs early struggles was due to Luka's slow pace and shot selection. He's currently shooting 7.1 threes per game but only connecting on 31.7% of them. They rank 18th in the league in pace, but Trey Burke and Jalen Brunson help take that number up.
So how did the Mavericks get the win on Saturday? The biggest factor was their three-point shooting, as they shot 44.7% from three as a team. It also helps when Luka Doncic goes off for 42 points and 11 assists, but this was, by all means, a team win.