What’s Holding the Mavericks Back Offensively?

Jalen Brunson

Getty Jalen Brunson reacts to a play against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Dallas Mavericks have been uncharacteristically bad on offense this season, with the ninth worst offensive rating (106.2) of any team in the NBA. While there’s a variety of reasons they’ve struggled on that end of the floor this season, there’s one area of the floor that sticks out as the largest issue.

For Dallas it’s been the poor 3-point shooting that has held them back. In terms of individual efficiency and the team’s shooting from deep overall, it’s been a down year thus far.

Despite having an 8-4 record, good for fourth in the Western Conference, the Mavericks haven’t proven anything yet this season.

Dallas has quite a few things to get better at, starting with their 3-point shooting efficiency.

Team Shooting

The Mavericks are one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the entire NBA. Especially against good teams and in the playoffs, this is not a recipe for success.

As the NBA continues to shift towards a higher volume shooting league, taking and making a high number of 3s is a necessity for many of the top teams.

Luka Doncic

GettyLuka Doncic reacts after getting a technical foul against the Sacramento Kings.

To this point in the season, the Mavericks are 25th in the NBA at 32.8% from beyond the arc. To make things worse, they attempt the sixth-most shots from deep, taking 39.6 per game.

With that in mind, the Mavs have established that they want to take a high number of 3s, but haven’t shown the ability to make them at a consistent enough rate. Through 12 games this season, 44.9% of Dallas’ shot attempts have 3-pointers. This is the fifth highest percentage of any team in the NBA.

They’ll either need to change their mindset and score from other parts of the floor, or do something to start generating better shots and convert on more 3-point attempts. Only 76.3% of their made 3s have been assisted on this season, which is near the bottom of the league. This means 23.7% of their makes from deep have been unassisted, so the Mavs need better ball movement, higher quality attempts and perhaps less isolation 3s.

Individual Struggles

Early in his career, Luka Doncic struggled from beyond the arc. As a rookie and second year player, he shot 32.7% and 31.6% from deep respectively.

From there, he really started to get into a groove in the 2020-21 season, knocking down 35.0% of the 8.3 triples he attempted per game.

Early this season, he’s really struggled from distance, shooting a career-low 30.9% on the 8.1 attempts. Was last season a fluke, or can Doncic be a legitimate 3-point threat? Either way, he’ll still find a way to score the ball, as he is lethal in the midrange and around the rim.

The 3-point shooting struggles in Dallas hasn’t fallen on just the shoulders of Doncic. Outside of Maxi Kleber, who has really been the only Maverick who’s been efficient from deep this season, the entire roster has been pretty bad from 3-point range relative to expectations.

Dorian Finney-Smith is shooting 28.8% from deep after converting on 39.4% of his attempts last season. Reggie Bullock, who was the Mavericks’ big free agency signing this summer, is shooting 32.1% from beyond the arc after being a 41.0% 3-point shooter last season.

It’s still early in the season, meaning each of these players and the team as a whole could certainly turn it around from deep. If they’re not able to, it could be yet another first-round exit in the playoffs at the end of the season.

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