Entering 2022, the Dallas Mavericks have a record of 17-18, which is good for eighth in the NBA‘s Western Conference. Although the start of a new year is simply just the turn of a calendar page, it’s also a good opportunity to reset and have a successful remainder of the season.
For a team like the Mavs, just getting healthy will be key for their success the rest of the way. Additionally, there’s quite a few things they’ve struggled with to this point in the season that need to be tweaked moving forward. There’s also been things that have been positive for Dallas that will need to be focused on even more down the stretch.
The Mavericks are a team that entered the season seeking a deep postseason push. Although they haven’t looked like that type of team thus far, there’s still plenty of time to turn things around.
What should the Mavericks to do improve in the year 2022?
Optimize Jalen Brunson
Jalen Brunson has emerged as a rising star this season. Just 25 years old, he’s stepped up when the Mavericks have needed him most. Over his past eight games, the guard is averaging 22.4 points and 7.9 assists per contest.
In the absence of Luka Donic, Brunson has shown he’s got the ability to facilitate the offense at an extremely high level. While he’s typically the best player off the bench in Dallas, he’s proven to be a quality starter as well.
Upon the return of Doncic, the Mavs will need to find ways to optimize Brunson and continue to get high levels of production. Whether that means still coming off of the bench or becoming a starter, he’s recently looked like the second or third best player on the entire roster and needs to continue to be moving forward.
It’s worth noting that Brunson is due for a payday this summer as he enters free agency. With the way he’s played recently, the Mavericks will have to pay the rising star quite a bit to stick around.
Triples & Defense
In the modern NBA, some of the most valuable players are those that can knock down 3-pointers and play quality defense. Additionally, most of the best teams in the league are able to do both of those things at a high level.
To this point in the season, the Mavs haven’t been great at hitting triples or playing defense. In fact, they’re 25th in the NBA from beyond the arc, knocking down just 32.8% of their 3-point attempts. Additionally, Dallas is top-ten in the league in attempts from beyond the arc despite not being efficient from that range.
With that in mind, if the Mavericks were just able to convert at a higher rate, quite a few of their offensive deficiencies would be fixed.
On the defensive end of the floor, Dallas has also struggled. This isn’t anything new, as defense has held the Mavs back for the past few seasons.
During the 2021-22 season, the Mavericks have a defensive rating of 108.7, which actually puts them in the top half of the league. However, if they’re going to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference that they know they can be, the defense will need to get even better.
One player who could really help with both 3-point shooting and defense is Kristaps Porzingis. One of the most important players on the roster, he’s got a unique skillset that could translate on both ends of the floor.
Offensively, Porzingis is shooting just 28.2% from beyond the arc on 5.5 attempts per game. This is an unusually low shooting percentage for him, especially considering he’s a career 35.4% 3-point shooter. Just last season, Porzingis converted on 37.6% of his 6.0 attempts from deep.
If he can even get somewhat close to his typical 3-point shooting numbers, the Mavericks will be a much better team. Porzingis is a volume shooter from beyond the arc and is a crucial piece of the Dallas perimeter offense.
A 7-footer, him spacing the floor and knocking down shots will only generate better looks for him teammates as well.
Defensively, he’s usually one of the tallest players on the floor. A guy that can protect the paint but also step out an defend on the perimeter, the Mavs’ defense starts with his ability to get the team going on that end of the floor.
When it comes down to it, Porzingis’ production the remainder of the season will have a direct impact on what this Mavericks team ends up doing.