Game 1: Dallas Mavericks 105, Phoenix Suns 107
Stat Leaders: Points: 35, Luka Dončić; Rebounds: 9, Luka Dončić; Assists: 6, Luka Dončić
[Not so] Surprising Stat: The Mavericks have not beaten the Suns in ten straight regular season games, with the last win on November 29, 2019.
Game 2: Dallas Mavericks 137, Memphis Grizzlies 96
Stat Leaders: Pts: 32, Luka Dončić; Rebounds: 12, Christian Wood; Assists: 10, Luka Dončić
Surprising Stat: Christian Wood became the first Maverick to score at least 50 points in his first two games with the franchise.
MVP of the Week: Luka Dončić
Luka Dončić was tired of hearing about his slow start to last season. He can arguably be the “MVP of the Week” every week, but his incredible performances in these first two games feel more meaningful than other regular season moments. Dončić was heavily criticized for, self-admittedly, entering last season with poor conditioning, and it took him until around February to find his groove.
This season, however, seems to be a different story.
Dončić is playing faster offensively and more physically defensively. He just looks better than he did at the beginning of last season. He faced little resistance from defenders and capped off his fantastic opening week with a 21-point first-quarter performance against Memphis. Dončić will have his ups and downs, but it is good to see him silence the critics by coming into this season well-prepared.
Something else to monitor: Dončić shot 94% from the free throw line this week, including a perfect 13-for-13 game against Phoenix.
Stock Up: Christian Wood
Followed by rumors of being a poor teammate and a stat-padder on bad teams, Christian Wood needed to show that his talent could be maximized on a contender.
So far, so good.
Christian Wood has played as advertised: an offensive multitool that has been slicing up his opponents. Do you need an alley-oop dunker? Do you need someone to score in isolation without Dončić? Do you need someone to stretch the floor?
Christian Wood is your guy.
Wood has been an absolute revelation on offense, and his 16-point run against Phoenix encapsulates everything he can bring to this team. He initiated the offense on multiple possessions. He showed us his best Dončić impression with his step-back three-pointer. He was an aggressive paint scorer against mismatches and showcased a litany of post moves against his primary defender that would make Dirk Nowitzki blush.
And he did more of the same against Memphis.
Two games in, Christian Wood has been everything Dallas has been looking for in a center to complement Dončić. If he can play like this in late-game situations and the postseason, the Mavericks might have unearthed the much-needed “second star.”
Weekly Surprise: Tyler Dorsey
In the doldrums of summer, Mavs fans watched as Tyler Dorsey was a surprise factor on the Greek FIBA team, averaging 17 points on 41% three-point shooting. His hot shooting seems to have carried over to the NBA. Dorsey played only four minutes against Memphis (his only minutes of the week) but scored nine points on perfect 4/4 shooting.
As a two-way player, Dorsey will probably be relegated to garbage-time minutes. NBA teams, however, can never have enough shooters, and no team rewards good shooters quite like the Luka-centric Mavs.
Stock Down: Tim Hardaway Jr.
At his best, “Good” Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of the league’s best sparkplugs. His quick-trigger and “you-miss-every-shot-you-don’t-take” mentality can revive dead offenses, and his defensive intensity can overcome his below-average defensive instincts.
At his worst, “Bad” Tim Hardaway Jr.’s best strengths become his biggest weaknesses. His poor shot selection wastes valuable possessions and his tunnel vision on scoring blinds him from finding open teammates.
This has been Tim Hardaway Jr. at his worst.
Hardaway Jr. shot an abysmal 6-for-20 from the field this week and is trying to find his place in an offense that is much different from when he last played. Hardaway Jr. has attempted too many contested shots and has conversely missed too many open looks. He has leaned into his ball-hog tendencies and has been unprepared for many of Dončić’s craftier passes.
Frankly, this was anticipated. Hardaway Jr. has not been the same player since the 2020-2021 playoffs, and he never found a groove last season before it was truncated by a broken foot. Hardaway will need time to get comfortable after his injury, but in a hypercompetitive Western Conference, the Mavericks can only wait so long.
Hopefully, “Good” Tim Hardaway Jr. will come back soon.
Oct 25 @ New Orleans Pelicans
Oct 27 @ Brooklyn Nets
Oct 29 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder