Dallas Mavericks 111, New Orleans Pelicans 113
Stat Leaders: Points: 37, Luka Dončić; Rebounds: 11, Luka Dončić; Assists: 7, Luka Dončić
Surprising Stat: The Mavericks had won 33 straight games when shooting above 50% prior to this loss.
Dallas Mavericks 129, Brooklyn Nets 125
Stat Leaders: Points: 41, Luka Dončić; Rebounds: 11, Luka Dončić; Assists: 14, Luka Dončić
Surprising Stat: This was Luka’s third career 40-point triple-double, tied for 6th all-time.
Dallas Mavericks 111, Oklahoma City Thunder, 117
Stat Leaders: Points: 31, Luka Dončić; Rebounds: 16, Luka Dončić; Assists: 10, Luka Dončić
Surprising Stat: NBA teams were 9,975-1 when leading by 16+ points in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter over the last 25 years. That record is now 9,975-2.
MVP of the Week: Luka Dončić
In fear of sounding repetitive, Dončić can just flat-out ball. Dončić averaged over 36 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists this week, and shot well in the games against Brooklyn and New Orleans. While his three-point shooting has yet to come around – largely due to his attempts being low-quality looks – his free-throw shooting has clearly improved. Dončić is shooting 83.6% from the line this season and has had no game shooting below 78%, which is 4% higher than his career average from the line. He has been aggressive in getting to the basket, averaging 11 free throw attempts per game, and his passing is beco ming more and more absurd.
Stock Up: Spencer Dinwiddie
Dinwiddie played particularly conservatively during the first week of the season as he was acclimating to the true secondary ball handler role that was vacated by Jalen Brunson. This week, however, he began to look more like the player Dallas traded for last season. He scored at least 20 points against both New Orleans and Oklahoma City, and his three-point shooting seems to have carried over from last season. He has looked more decisive in his decision-making and has excelled both as a complimentary piece next to Luka and the primary ball-handler in the second unit. With a shortage of playmakers on this roster, Dinwiddie will need to maintain this level of production for the Mavericks to be successful.
Surprise of the Week: Josh Green Finding His Shot Against Brooklyn
Josh Green has long been the scapegoat of the tumultuous front office guided by Don Nelson and Haralabob Voulgaris. After passing up on Desmond Bane and Tyrese Maxey (both high-end role players) to select Green, high expectations were placed on him to join Dončić in the youth movement in Dallas. With a shaky season last year and a rough start to his season, it hasn’t looked too good.
Green, however, has certainly had his moments where if you squint hard enough, you can see another “three-and-D” wing materializing. One such moment was against Brooklyn, where he scored 10 points and went a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point range in just 13 minutes of action. Green is an athletic and energetic defender, and played admirably in the few minutes he was tasked to guard Kyrie Irving. If Green can begin to put together more complete games, he can further entrench himself in the rotation.
As a bonus, Green also snagged four steals against Oklahoma City, further showcasing his defensive versatility.
Stock Down: Jason Kidd
This segment certainly deserves its own article, but after five games it is clear Kidd needs to make adjustments.
The Mavericks should realistically be 5-0. Thus far, the team has only played one truly complete game – a demolition of the Memphis Grizzlies. This team, however, squandered a 22-point lead against the Phoenix Suns, lost an eight-point fourth-quarter lead against the shorthanded Pelicans, needed overtime and a 40-point triple-double from Dončić to beat the Nets, and choked a 16-point fourth quarter lead away against the tanking Thunder.
In just two weeks.
Many of the issues plaguing the Mavericks are entirely fixable. Whether that is playing Christian Wood in the closing lineup (of which Kidd recently said, “We left [him] out there with [the closing lineup] and it didn’t go well on either end”), changing Dončić’s minutes’ structure so he has more energy to close games, or simply calling a timeout to stop an 18-2 run, it is clear that Kidd has to do something to fix these issues.
Coach Kidd has earned the benefit of the doubt for bringing this team to the Western Conference Finals last season. For a coach, however, with a mediocre resumé working for a team with a winning culture, these good graces may not last should this underwhelming play continue.
Yes, this team has flaws. Another ball-handler would be nice, and a more defensively skilled big man would help as well. One thing about the NBA, however, is that you can’t have it all. This team has a generational talent, a solid supporting cast, and no excuses to perform as poorly as they have thus far.
Changes need to be made. And fast.
Oct. 30 vs Orlando Magic
Nov. 2 vs Utah Jazz
Nov. 4 vs Toronto Raptors