Mavs: Is Shot Selection an Issue?

Luka Doncic

Getty Luka Doncic reacts during a game against the LA Clippers.

The Dallas Mavericks have been solid to start the season, but aren’t where they need to be if the goal is winning a championship. With a record of 10-7, there’s still plenty of room to improve over the next several months before the postseason.

Championship level teams are typically great on both ends of the floor, but must be elite on either offense or defense. Over the past couple of seasons, the Mavs have been one of the best offensive teams in the NBA, but are starting to slip on that end of the floor.

Dallas’ offensive rating to this point in the season would be their worst since the 2017-18 season. Furthermore, it’s much worse than the past two seasons specifically with Luka Doncic at the helm.

  • 2021-22: 106.6 (17th)
  • 2020-21: 114.6 (8th)
  • 2019-20: 115.9 (1st)

The Mavericks’ overall shooting from the floor has been very poor this season. They’re shooing just 43.6% from the field, which is 24th in the NBA. The only teams below them in that category are the six teams with the six worst records in the NBA.

Why are they shooting so bad? There’s never one simple answer to offensive struggles, but it might start with the looks they’re taking. 

Live and Die by the 3

In the modern NBA, teams are being forced to take more 3-pointers in order to keep up with opponents offensively. Unfortunately for the Mavs, they’re one of the worst teams in the league from beyond the arc. To this point in the season, they’ve converted on just 33.1% of their 3s, which is 23rd in the NBA.

With that in mind, they’re still taking the eighth most 3-pointers of any team in the league. In fact, 43.5% of their shots come from deep (7th in NBA) but only 36.6% of their points are generated from beyond the arc.

Frank Ntilikina

GettyFrank Ntilikina, Dallas Mavericks

When it comes down to it, they simply haven’t been an efficient 3-point shooting team, but still continue to fire away from deep. At some point, adjustments must be made. It might still be too early in the season to make any drastic moves in terms of the shots Dallas is looking to create, but at some point, getting to the rim more may have to become a priority.

While the team overall is shooting poorly, it’s come down to the guys that make up the most volume in terms of 3-point attempts. Luka Doncic (8.2 attempts), Tim Hardaway Jr. (7.5 attempts) and Kristaps Porzingis (5.8 attempts) take the most 3s of any player on the Mavs, but all three shoot below 35% on the season.

Play Inside Out

Getting to the rim can often get an offense going. Whether it’s converting on high percentage looks in the paint or even drawing fouls to get to the line, good things often happen.

The Mavericks are currently 20th in NBA in free throw attempts at 19.4 per game. If they were to attack the rim more, this number would likely go up. With that in mind, they haven’t necessarily been a great team this season in shots inside the 3-point line, converting on just 56.5% of their 2-point attempts (24th in NBA).

However, making this an emphasis would help them, as teams would then have to play more honest defense in the paint, which would naturally generate better looks for kick-out 3-pointers.

Being a one-dimensional team on offense makes them much easier to defend. The Mavericks could look to get things going around the rim, and as defenses will have to collapse they could generate more open shots outside. Dallas has only produced 38.7 points in the paint per game this season, good for second-worst in the league.

Only 37.2% of Dallas’ points come from in the paint (28th in NBA), meaning they aren’t getting the production they need from their bigs. They recently made a starting lineup change at center, which could help with this issue longer term.

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