Image Credit: @MavsPR
Welcome back for the 2nd of a 3 part series designed to bring good vibes for MFFLs and hopefully some interesting stats. I have dug through stats for each member of the Dallas Mavericks and will bring forward one key stat that highlights a unique skill or value that they have for this Mavs team.
In Part 1 of this series of positivity I focused on 5 key Dallas Mavericks Players in Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Dwight Powell, and Maxi Kleber. This time I have put together a list of players that have a common theme, efficient playmaking. While each of them have different roles and skills, they are similar in the fact that they are productive offensive players not only scoring but also making plays for teammates without turning the ball over.
One of the biggest strengths of the Mavericks as a team last season was their low turnover rate. The Mavericks were tied for the lowest turnover percentage in the League at 11.2 per 100 possessions. Luka turns the ball over 4.2 times per game but that is more of a factor of his high usage and having the ball in his hands so much. His turnover rate of 14.8% is lower than many of the other top playmakers in the NBA including Ben Simmons (20.4%), Ja Morant (17%), Trae Young (16.2%), Nikola Jokic (15.8%), and LeBron James (15.1%) among others.
Added to Luka’s efficient playmaking the Mavericks need other secondary playmakers and team leaders off the bench to make Rick Carlisle’s offense most effective. Luckily for the Mavericks they have a whole group of guys that have proven to be able to rack up assists without giving the ball away to the defense.
When Dallas traded Seth Curry to Philadelphia for Josh Richardson it was common to see people refer to him as a new 3-and-D wing, but I think this is really selling Richardson short. Yes he can shoot and yes he can create turnovers for the opposing team but less talked about is Richardson’s ability to read the defense and make the right play to set up a teammate for a bucket.
Since the 2018-2019 season there have only been 6 players to post at least 16 points and 4 assists per game while turning the ball over less than 2 times per game over the course of a season.
Not only was Josh a member of this select group of scoring playmakers but he was considerably younger than the other players to do it and was one of only 3 players to do it while coming up with over one steal per game at the same time. He can score, he can defend, and he is an efficient playmaker when used the right way. Josh Richardson is an all around basketball player who can do a lot of things on the court and thats what I think the Mavs expect from him. Through the first 3 Mavs games of the 2020-2021 season Richardson is averaging just 1.7 assists per game. As he gets more comfortable with his teammates in Carlisle’s system (remember we had a highly accelerated training camp and preseason) I think we are going to see a lot more from J-Rich as a secondary playmaker with the starting unit.
Full disclosure, I am a big Jalen Brunson fan. I am the guy that, during free agency and trade season, gets nervous anytime Brunson is included in trade ideas. I understand that Brunson is only included because people feel like he has some trade value but I think his value as a basketball player is only starting to show. As a two time NCAA National Champion, College Player of the Year award winner, Wooden Award winner, Naismith Award winner Jalen Brunson was the second most accomplished player taken in the 2018 NBA Draft behind Luka Doncic. Having Luka run the starting unit and being backed up by Jalen Brunson is an incredible luxury for Rick Carlisle and the Mavs, and a luxury I would like to keep. JB can score inside and out and can run an offense with high efficiency.
Last year there were only two players in the NBA with per 36 minute averages of over 16 points and 6.5 assists with less than 2.5 turnovers.
When you look on a per 36 minute basis Jalen Brunson’s numbers look very similar to Fred VanVleet’s, one of the breakout stars for the 2019 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors who continued his assent last season. Aside from VanVleet’s impressive defensive prowess, Brunson is with him step for step despite being two years younger.
I was very much looking forward to seeing Jalen Brunson in the Playoffs last season. Postseason competition is a place where Jalen Brunson has thrived throughout his life. Not only did he win twice in College but he was also Illinois Mr. Basketball and won a High School State Championship. He is a high pressure player with all the skills and IQ to make good things happen on the court, even in the biggest moments. Unfortunately shoulder surgery cut Brunson’s 2019-2020 season short and he was unable to display his talents in the Playoffs with his teammates. This year, I am expecting a different story.
Watching Trey Burke cross up Kawhi Leonard was probably the highlight of the Mavs postseason for me aside from the Luka game-winner. Burke is so quick and aggressive on offense that he can put even the best defenders on skates to get to his spot on the floor. When Trey is on the court with the Mavs he is out there to be a scorer. Although he has only averaged 10.6 points per game over his 39 game tenure with the Mavs coming into this season (2018-2020, including Playoffs), when you look at his numbers on a per 36 minute basis he is averaging 19 points per game. When he has been given the opportunity he has produced quite nicely.
But enough about the scoring, this is an article about producing assists without out turning the ball over and Trey Burke can do that to. Again, looking at his numbers on a per 36 minute basis (excluding the Playoff games this time) Trey contributes 5.5 assists and just 1.7 turnovers while dropping over 19 points. To be able to score and create scoring plays for teammates at this rate without turnovers is rare. VERY RARE.
In the shot clock era (from 1954 through last season) there have only been 3 players ever with 36 minute averages of over 19 points per game and 5 assists per game with less than 2 turnovers per game over the course of a season. Note, my numbers listed above are a little different because I was looking at Trey’s full game list with the Mavericks and not this individual season of his split between New York and Dallas.
This was really quite astonishing. I wasn’t going into running this stat thinking that there would be this few results. This bodes very well for this Mavericks second unit this year when we have Jalen Brunson and Trey Burke scoring in bunches and playing clean basketball. It also bodes well that we just signed Burke to a 3-Year/$10 million contract this offseason. I expect Trey Burke to be an incredible value for the next several years.
I am not saying that all of these players listed are going to break out for All-Star seasons or be the leaders of any fantasy teams but I am saying that they can be part of a very good winning basketball team. Luka Doncic is the leader of this team, most of the praise for the Mavs will be given to Luka, and rightfully so, but having efficient playmakers along side him is so important of the course of a long season and hopefully long Playoff run. Josh Richardson, Jalen Brunson, and Trey Burke may not deliver eye popping box score stats every night but they play their game at an extremely high level and I believe they are the type of supporting cast that help Luka rise to MVP level and for the Mavs to return to contending for a Championship.
Look for Part 3 of this series coming soon with a key positive stat for the remainder or your 2020-2021 Dallas Mavericks.