This is the antithesis of last years team
When you think of last year’s team, you envision an offensive maestro orchestrating a symphony. A tidal wave of offense that often saw them run the score line into the 130’s & 140’s.
You also think of a team that withered in winning-time. And one that couldn’t get the critical stops and rebounds it needed.
Miraculously, the script has flipped in just one offseason. And tonight’s gut-check road victory was another example of that.
There is no doubt in my mind, last years team 1. Blows an early lead, and 2., could not dig in and defend/rebound down the stretch. Especially with the haymakers Jokic was throwing.
I would point to several reasons for this. The acquisition of both Josh Richardson & James Johnson have done wonders for their collective toughness & grit. Their best player & leader on the floor taking defense seriously also has a lot to do with it. Either way, it’s welcome and will go a long way in helping them take championships steps.
Josh Richardson has to be better; Team needs to help get him going
Let’s be clear: J-Rich’s fingerprints are all over this team, in a positive sense. His point-of-attack defense, energy, and grit defensively have set a tone for this team. He’s helping to establish an identity.
With that being said, they need his offense.
When the trade for Josh Richardson went down, everybody knew it was a step backwards on offense, albeit a small one. Anytime you’re giving up one of the most prolific and efficient three-point shooters in league history, as Seth Curry is, your offense is going to feel it.
Through the first eight games, that small step back looks more like a gigantic leap. The Mavericks have been among the league’s worst offenses and the singular worst shooting team in the league. A far cry from last years top offensive rating in league history.
There are a lot of reasons for this not just the Richardson-Curry swap, but it’s certainly been a factor. J-Rich has never been the most consistent offensive player, but I can assure you, he is better than this. In both Philly and especially Miami.
Whats the cure? It’s hard to say really, but the entire offense being so bogged down has something to do with it. Missing the second best player also does. But even with KP, it’s imperative the Mavericks get something out of their prized trade acquisition. It’s on Luka, Carlisle, and co. to help him along, but J-Rich needs to start making shots or this season could go south.
Luka needs to look for his shot first
It’s hard to tell a pass-first players to go against their nature. Especially one who takes as much joy in setting up others as Luka does.
But his teammates are in a very bad way shooting the basketball. And he seems too focused on trying to bust their slump for them.
Forget that. Forget pacing yourself. Go create shots for yourself and that stuff will take care of itself. That doesn’t mean hoisting low-percentage shots as he sometimes will do, it means putting the head down and going to the rim hard, with a scorers mentality. That will create the attention necessary to generate good looks for Dorian, J-Rich, Hardaway, etc.. and it’s the quickest way to get the offense going without KP.
Willie Cauley-Stein continues to impress; Deserves Powell’s rotation minutes when KP returns
Willie Cauley-Stein continued his strong early season play in Denver, building on his Mavs-best performance in H-Town.
The box isn’t eye-popping, as he only had 5 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 block. But ask anyone who watched the game, his impact was profound. Especially his defense on Jokic.
Don’t get me wrong, the Joker still got his. But Willie made him work for everything and won his fair share of reps. Against a player of Jokic’s caliber, that’s all you can do.
He has EARNED his spot. Everyone can see that. We all love Dwight, but this is a meritocracy. It’s about winning. And right now, Willie gives them the best chance to do that.
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