It is only July but I am already fired up for the Dallas Mavericks next season. We have a roster full of players who are poised to have their best season of their careers in 2019-2020. We have top level young talent in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis and a roster filled out with players who have a defined role in which they can excel at what they do best. In order to highlight what those roles and skills will look like I have uncovered one key statistic for every player on the Mavs roster.
There have been 12 players in NBA history who matched KP’s combination of over 22.5 points and 2.7 block per game that he averaged in the 2017-2018 season: David Robinson 7x, Shaquille O’Neal 6x, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 9x, Tim Duncan 2x, Bob McAdoo 1x, Elton Brand 1x, Dwight Howard 1x, Anthony Davis 3x, Patrick Ewing 5x, Elvin Hayes 2x, and Alonzo Mourning.
However, Porzingis is THE ONLY player in NBA history to hit these marks of points and blocks while averaging more than 1 three pointer per game. That insane combination of rim protection and deep range shooting is how you earn yourself the nickname The Unicorn.
I am convinced that Luka Doncic is the best teenage NBA Rookie of all-time as I have written about more extensively in my No Ordinary Rookie article a few weeks ago. This is saying a lot when the list of candidates includes players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal, and Devin Booker.
Luka is not only an unbelievable scorer but his all-around game is what makes him most unique. Based on per 36 minute numbers from their teenage Rookie seasons, Luka Doncic scored better than LeBron James, assisted teammates baskets more than Kyrie Irving, and rebounded opponent misses more than Dwight Howard.
Those are three players who are among the very best at those respective attributes and Luka, at the same stage in their careers, was better than all of them. We are so blessed to have a phenom like Luka here in Dallas playing for our favorite team. The sky is the limit for the young Slovenian sensation and I refuse to put a ceiling on anything that he can accomplish in this league.
When you look at Dwight Powell’s per 36 minute production he is really an impressive player. With nearly 18 points, 9 rebounds, a block, and a steal per 36 minutes with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 63.7%, you can see Powell is an absolute stat stuffer with top level efficiency. More so than all of that, my one big stat on Dwight Powell has to do with his 3 point shooting.
From January 1st to the end of the season this year, in 44 games, Powell shot 79 threes and made 39.2% of them. In the previous season it was pretty much the same story, after a poor shooting first half of the season he turned it around starting in January, shooting 42% on 43 attempts for the remainder of the 2017-2018 season. Once the New Year rolls around Powell is not only one of the most deadly roll men and lob threats in the league, he also has the ability to pop out and make defenses pay with the deep jumper.
It may just be a coincidence but as Powell’s minutes and role increases in the second half of the year so does his shooting percentage. Perhaps playing a few more minutes per game allows him to settle in and feel more comfortable on the court. It is hard to say exactly what the cause of the vastly different shooting splits but figuring that out will be up to Rick Carlisle and and Dwight himself to try to get the most out of his talent for the upcoming season.
A recent article on FiveThirtyEight by Nate Silver developed a new way to measure the effectiveness of a player as a defender. Using opponent shooting data, Silver uses his DRAYMOND defensive rating to measure how well a player limits a shooters openness, defends shots, and effects opponent field goal percentage.
According to this new statistic Maxi Kleber ranked as the 5th best in the entire NBA at defending opponents shots in 2018-2019. This stat is not perfect but it does reinforce what Mavs fans have seen during games over the past two seasons. Maxi Kleber is a relentless rim protector who has the foot speed and versatility to stay with guards and contest shots on the perimeter as well.
I expect Maxi Kleber to be a defensive anchor for the bench unit this coming season and continue to grow and expand his game as one of the most underrated modern big men in the NBA that can defend the rim on defense and stretch the floor on offense.
He took a while to get going during his 2018-2019 Rookie season but once he was given the opportunity Brunson had some very impressive moments. His scoring, playmaking and efficiency all came together on March 12th in San Antonio when Jalen Brunson posted the single highest Game Score rating of any Dallas Mavericks player for the 2018-2019 season.
Game Score is a statistic that measures all of the good things a player does during the game (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, ect.) and subtracts all of the negatives (missed shots, turnovers, fouls, ect.) to put a single number to a players individual box score.
On this night in San Antonio Brunson put up 34 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists and posted a Game Score of 31.5. You would have thought the honor of highest Game Score would have gone to Luka Doncic last year, perhaps for his 30-point triple-double, but the efficiency with which Jalen Brunson scored and made plays was unmatched.
Tim Hardaway, Jr.
Many people are completely overlooking Tim Hardaway, Jr. when talking about the Mavs for this coming season. Everyone is upset that the Mavs did not land a wing player such as Danny Green and feel like there is a big hole in the roster at that spot. THJ has not had the shooting efficiency recently that you would like but that does not mean he cannot be an effective player.
Only 7 players in the NBA last season were able to score at least 18 points per game, have an assist percentage of over 12%, and have a turnover rate of less than 9%. The other players on this list aside from THJ are Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler, JJ Redick, and CJ McCollum.
Along with his ability to score, Hardaway, Jr. knows how to play within a team concept and make plays for his teammates without turning the ball over. This can be a very valuable skill that can earn you serious playing time under Head Coach Rick Carlisle. If THJ can return to the shooting efficiency that he showed in 2014 and 2017 where he shot 36% from three point range then he could play a very big role in the Mavericks return to the NBA Playoffs.
Dorian Finney-Smith’s role for the upcoming season is very hard to determine. He is a great role player who has been groomed under Coach Carlisle the past 3 years but has failed to show the shooting efficiency that would allow him to stay on the floor for big minutes. Despite the low shooting numbers, Doe-Doe’s slashing, offensive rebounding, and defensive versatility have shown to be very useful NBA skills when he is on the floor with other good players.
To highlight Dorian’s defensive skill set I will once again point to the DRAYMOND statistic recently developed by Nate Silver that I referenced in Maxi Kleber’s section. This statistic, for the 2018-2019 season, has Finney-Smith ranked as the 6th best defender that played the majority of their minutes at Small Forward this season.
My favorite thing to watch when DFS is on the floor is the way he can close out and contest three point shooters while still staying down in his defensive stance. While most players jump at the ball and take themselves way out of defensive position, Doe-Doe is able to contest the shot but also stay with the ball handler if he decides to pump fake and drive. It may seem like a small thing but it allows the defense to maintain its overall integrity and prevent an over-switching situation.
He is a straight up pleasure to watch on defense, hopefully his jumper can come around so we get to see even more of it.
Justin Jackson’s greatest attribute is not one that you can just measure with statistics, what sets him apart from other 24 year old NBA players is his work ethic. His Coaches at every level consistently talk about how much time he spends in the gym working on his craft and how he is a positive influence on all of his teammates.
With that said, Jackson does also really stand out in one other area as well and that is in his ability to finish at the rim. On 75 attempts at the rim in the 2018-2019 season Jackson shot an incredible 80% on shots at the rim. To put this into context, take a look at how this ranks compared to some of the best scorers in the NBA last year:
|Player||At the Rim||3-10 feet|
Justin Jackson wears #44 in honor of one of the best scorers in NBA history, George “Iceman” Gervin who was known for his silky smooth touch and creative finishes around the hoop. Jackson has said that he watches a bunch of Iceman film and has tried to model his game after him and the results show it.
Along with finishing around the rim, Jackson has shown to be dedicated to growing into an effective long range shooter. He showed his capability to develop his jumper in College and continues to show improvements in the NBA as well. In 29 games with the Mavs this season Jackson shot an impressive 37.2% on 86 three point attempts.
Justin Jackson’s finishing at the rim and three point efficiency combined with his continued hard work could make for a breakout scoring season for him sooner rather than later.
Only 4 players in the NBA last season were able to accomplish per 36 minute stats of over 5.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.8 steals. These players were James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Eric Bledsoe, and Delon Wright. The rest of these players are in the midst of their prime at either 29 or 30 years of age while Delon Wright is just coming into his at age 27.
As a 6’5″ guard, Wright’s all around game will be a delight to watch this season. Not only can he rebound, assist, and force turnovers but he also excels at getting to the rim and using his length for acrobatic finishes over smaller defenders and around bigs.
and although his career three point percentage is only 33%, from the corners that jumps up to 39%. Even if he does not improve his jump shot this season he can still be an effective floor space if placed in the right spots.
Very simply, Seth Curry is one of the greatest three point shooters in NBA history. Seth is third all time in three point percentage for players who have made at least 300 threes in their career.
With the elite passing and playmaking of Luka Doncic and the offensive gravity provided by the addition of Kristaps Porzingis, Seth Curry should be able to find open shots this season like he never has before. Curry has already shown that he can elevate this game within Rick Carlisle’s offense when he knocked down 2 threes per game in 70 games with the Mavericks in 2016.
If Curry can stay healthy this season, all signs point to him having the best year of his entire career.
There are very few players in the NBA that can control an offense like the great JJ Barea. At 34 years old last season he was more productive than he has ever been on a 36 minute basis with 19.9 points and 10.1 assists. Russell Westbrook was the only other player in the NBA that matched Barea’s per 36 minute points and assists numbers.
Furthermore, JJ did not just put up empty stats, his production results in winning basketball. Of the 5-man combinations for the Mavericks last season that played at least 31 minutes together, JJ barea was in 3 of the top 4 lineups by net points over their opponents.
It is impossible to say when JJ Barea will return from his achilles injury and whether or not he will be the same player, but given his production last season and what he did to help bring this city a Championship, I think he deserves a chance to get on the court whenever he is ready to return.
Last season only two other players were able to match Boban Marjanovic’s per 36 minute production of points (22.3) and rebounds (14). These two players were Joel Embiid and Kevin Love.
Boban will not play big minutes, he averaged a carer high 11.7 minutes per game last season, but when he is on the floor there is no doubt that he is productive and effective. He sets monster screen on the perimeter and is nearly unstoppable when he catches the ball deep in the paint. If defenders make the mistake of fouling him he is able to knock down free throws at career rate of 77.3%.
The Luka Doncic swing pass to Ryan Broekhoff to the corner is as automatic of three points as you can find in the NBA. Broekhoff is a deadly three point shooter from anywhere, clocking in at 40.9% for last season, but that percentage skyrockets to 51.7% when he is shooting from the corners. To illustrate just how good that percentage is, check out how it stacks up against the top three point shooters in the league last season.
|Player||Corner 3 %|
Broekhoff’s jumper is so pure, every time he throws it up, no matter where he is on the court, you feel like it is going in. At 28 years old and with his first NBA season now under his belt, there is no reason to think this this three point efficiency will be ending any time soon.