This may have not been the most exciting season for Mavs fans, as the team is again at the bottom of the NBA standings, but the opportunity to watch the young guys grow and to watch the GOAT ride off into the sunset, has made this a season I will never forget.
There have been some incredible individual Maverick performances this season, even if they may not have always resulted in wins. One of the best parts of being a Mavericks season ticket holder is that on any given night you might see greatness. What may appear to be an uninteresting game mid-season can quickly turn into memorable moments and performances.
Below is a list of the top 6 individual single game performances this season by a Dallas Maverick. In order to determine the best performances we will use a Game Score number.
Game Score is a big long formula that is designed to give a measure of a player’s productivity for a single game, think of it as a total fantasy points type score. Thanks to Basketball Reference’s providing Game Scores for every game since 1983 we can have an objective measure of the best single Playoff game performances.
6. Luka Dončić – 27.5 Game Score
Dallas Mavericks (20-22) at Minnesota Timberwolves (20-22)
January 11, 2019
Dal 119 – MIN 115
No, it wasn’t a triple double but it was one of the best games Luka Dončić has had all season. This 29 point, 12 assists, 8 rebound performance came at a time before the Mavericks traded 4/5 of their starters and were still in the Playoff hunt. Visiting a talented Timberwolves team, also chasing the Playoffs, Luka out-dueled 2x All-Star and 2016 Rookie-of-the-Year Karl-Anthony Towns.
Towns was great in his own right this game, dropping 30 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks while having to fend off DeAndre Jordan all night. Derrick Rose was also busy, racking up 21 points and 5 assists over 27 minutes.
Go-Ahead floater over Karl-Anthony Towns with 1:30 left in the game. A go-ahead dunk in traffic over KAT with 1 minute to play. Then a DEEP go-ahead pull up 3 over KAT with 23 seconds left to seal the win. Luka had all his skills on display in the last two minutes of this game. He can be you inside with skill or with size and can take it to the perimeter for long range daggers.
5. Dwight Powell – 27.9 Game Score
Dallas Mavericks (27-37) at Washington Wizards (27-37)
March 9, 2019
DAL 123 – WAS 132
I have to be honest, the last few year I have been a Dwight Powell hater. Although he has always played harder than everyone on the court and been able to finish above the rim and offensive rebound with the best of them, he just appeared outmatched in the post on both ends of the court. Big guys would back him down for an easy finish and he would often catch the ball in the lane and lose it out of bounds before he could muscle a shot up.
That has changed this season, despite his 3 point shot being dormant for the first half of the season, Dwight Powell has been uber productive this year. He is still crashing home alley-oops on a nightly basis but his below the rim finishing ability has greatly improved. Now when he goes knifing through the lane he is able to catch, gather, and finish as efficiently as anyone.
When DeAndre Jordan was traded to the Knicks in late January Dwight Powell starting seeing starter type minutes and his production followed. Since the start of February Powell has averaged 14 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists in 30 minutes per game while shooting 62% from the field, 45% from 3, and 81% from the line.
His game on March 9th against the Wizards was no exception to his stellar play as of late. 26 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists with 0 turnovers on 11 of 12 shooting is about as efficient as it gets. The Wizards just could not keep Powell away from the offensive glass as he racked up 5 offensive rebounds, many of which immediately led to Dwight Powell layups including one emphatic tip-slam.
The Mavs unfortunately lost this game but one this is known for sure, Dwight Powell tried his hardest.
4. Dwight Powell – 28.4 Game Score
Dallas Mavericks (31-47) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (35-43)
April 3, 2019
DAL 108 – MIN 110
The 5th to last game of the season for the Dallas Mavericks turned in the 4th best individual performance by a Mav this season thanks to Dwight Powell once again.
In typical Dwight Powell fashion he made nearly every one of his shots, rebounded the ball well, filled up the hustle stats, and did not turn the ball over.
Dwight was great on this night but unfortunately Karl-Anthony Towns was greater, with a 29 Game Score, posting 28 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks on 12-15 from the floor.
The Mavs and Wolves were tied at halftime but a bad third quarter sent the Mavs into the final frame with a 10 point deficit. They battled back nicely, capped off by a Luka step-back with 2:41 to go that put the Mavericks up 104-101. The Slovenian Sensation hit another go-ahead shot, this time a floater in the lane, with 1:34 left to put the Mavs up 2.
A few back-and-forths later and it was the Mavericks with the ball with 10 seconds to, down by two, and Luka at the top of the key guarded by Josh Okogie. A few dribbles between the legs and hard drive into the paint got Okogie backpedaling at which point Luka hit him with a killer step-back that put Okogie face down on the deck, helpless. Terrified of giving Luka an open 3 for the win, point guard Tyus Jones left Jalen Brunson wide open on the wing to try to contest. Rather than go for his own glory, Luka makes the right basketball play and flip the ball to a Brunson spotting up for the game-winning buzzer-beater 3…back iron. It was another very impressive end of game performance by Luka and very unselfish play, but unfortunately the Mavs just missed the shot and took another loss.
Luka was also great in this game (27 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists – 22.4 GmSc) but was not able to put the Timberwolves away down the stretch as he did on January 11th in the 6th best game by a Maverick this season noted above.
3. Dwight Powell – 29.7 Game Score
Dallas Mavericks (26-34) at LA Clippers (34-28)
February 25, 2019
DAL 112 – LAC 121
Dwight Powell checks in again with the 3rd best individual performance by a Maverick this season. I guess it is technically possible to be more efficient than Powell was on February 25th against the Clippers, he did miss 1 shot…but Dwight was nearly unstoppable on this night. He filled up the box score in every category, except for turnovers which he had none.
In a game where Luka Doncic recorded a 28 point triple-double it was Powell who had the highest Game Score thanks to his incredible hard work and efficiency. He was productive throughout the box score but he had his hand full on the defensive end trying to contain Montrezl Harrell. All of his defensive effort was to no avail as Harrell crushed the Mavericks for 32 points on 14-17 from the floor.
Since becoming a starter in February Powell has shown that he can maintain his effort and productivity with an increased role. Depending on what happens in upcoming free agency, if most of their money is spent on guards and wings, there is a chance that we will be rolling out Dwight Powell as our starting Center next season. A year ago that would have terrified me but after what he has done with his minutes this season it is hard to argue.
2. Luka Doncic – 30.2 Game Score
Dallas Mavericks (22-27) vs. Toronto Raptors (37-15)
January 27, 2019
DAL 120 – TOR 123
Measured by Game Score this was Luka’s best game of his Rookie season. It may have been a loss but its an impressive accomplishment against Kawhi Leonard, the best perimeter defender in the League.
Luka is only 1 of 3 players to put up 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in a game this season along with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. He was scoring at will, putting the ball right were teammates needed it, and fighting off a really good Raptors team on the boards.
Alghtough the Mavericks lost, this was a really good came that came down to last minute. Down 119-112 with less than 30 seconds left Luka sized up Kawhi Leonard and knocked down a contested three from the top of the key. Time ran out on the Luka comeback but maybe his performance in this game is something Kawhi Leonard will consider when its time to choose a new team in free agency this summer. A trio of Doncic, Porzingis, and Leonard is a Big Three that would strike fear into the rest of the League.
1. Jalen Brunson – 31.5 Game Score
Dallas Mavericks (27-40) vs. San Antonio Spurs (39-29)
March 12, 2019
DAL 105 – SAS 112
Jalen Brunson did not have a major role with the Mavericks for most of this season, behind Dennis Smith Jr. and JJ Barea at point guard. Then JJ got hurt and DSJ was traded and Brunson found himself getting some major minutes. As a 22 year old Rookie out of Villanova, Brunson showed his winning pedigree right away. He may be a Rookie but he carries himself like a 10 year NBA veteran, always in control, always making the right play.
With Luka having one of his worst games of the year with 12 points and 9 turnovers, it was Jalen Brunson who shined bright and kept the Mavericks competitive with the rival Spurs. In front of the home fans Brunson was on fire! 12-16 from the field including 5 three pointers and 7-7 from the line, there was nothing that the Spurs defense could do to slow down Jalen Buckets.
This would be the 4th best Game Score by a Rookie this season behind, Trae Young 37.8 in 4OT game, Deandre Ayton 36.7, and Trae again with a 31.6 Game Score. There have been many phenomenal Rookies from the 2018 Draft class, Jalen Brunson may not have the same numbers but he has proved he can play with absolutely anyone. He slid to the second round due to concerns about his size, age, and athleticism but JB has put any and all concerns to rest. He has a lightning quick first step, incredible handles, and great awareness and court vision. He can finish tough layups inside and has a smooth stroke to stretch the floor out to 3 point range. With skills like that and a history winning Championships, Jalen Brunson can be my point guard any day.