As the Mavs sit at 8-12 and in the middle of a five game losing streak, it’s hard not to think about the players from last year’s team that made it the still-flawed-but-undeniably-more-fun-than-this-year’s-team that we all grew to know and love. Really only one of these players is like the ex-girlfriend you occasionally look up on social media and the other few are just like the people you think about randomly for the first time in months, but they’re all not currently here. So let’s check in on them.
No offense to Justin, but he’s definitely one of those random people from high school where you see something that reminds you of them, then you pause for a second, then you just go on with your day like it never happened. Kind of like, “Oh, I hope Justin’s doing well… alright, anyway.”
In all seriousness, Justin was one of the nicest guys on the Mavericks team the last few years. He contributes to great causes off the court and I doubt he ever caused one single problem in the locker room. I’m sure he’s doing the exact same great things off the court in Oklahoma City. Yes, that’s where he plays now. I know you forgot.
Stats: 4.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 17% three point shooting, only played in 8 out of OKC’s 18 games so far. Doesn’t seem to be because of injury…
First year NBA coach Mark Daigneault, yes there is a link there because I copied and pasted his name I didn’t know how to spell from a website, has a strange situation to handle in Oklahoma City. They’re supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league, and they might eventually end up there, but they’re currently pretty competitive with just an 8-10 record. Unfortunately, Justin’s not really a part of that formula. We know from watching Jackson for a season and a half that he has that nifty floater in the lane on offense, but not much else. Over his 94 games in Dallas, he shot just 32% from deep and that is down to a dreadful 17% (3-18) this season. He’s in the last year of his rookie contract and he may not get a second NBA deal if he can’t show a little bit more over the course of the rest of the season.
We had a lot of hope for Delon Wright. It was strange to see him not work out after just one season in Dallas but I think he just didn’t quite realize what he signed up for with a Rick Carlisle-led squad. If you’re not an absolute star, you can be in the dog house if you’re under performing. That seemed to happen to Wright after a certain point last season. Now in Detroit, he seems to be getting the role/minutes he thought he’d have here.
Stats: 9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 36% three point shooting, 27.1 minutes per game, has started 15 out of 20 games
Delon hasn’t been bad or anything, he just doesn’t seem to be making the absolute most of his 27 minutes a night. He has a below average true shooting percentage of 54% and he’s on one of the worst teams in the league. Wright is someone who wouldn’t at all fix the issues of the current Mavericks team, so there’s no need to sweat his absence.
On the other hand…
It’s hard to understand what exactly you have until you no longer have it. In Curry, the Mavericks had an absolutely elite perimeter shooter capable of going off for 20 on any given night if he was given the minutes and shots to do so. On the flip side, you also had a guy who was undersized, an iffy defender, frequently dealing with some kind of injury that caused him to miss games and then occasionally just disappeared for a few games. When he was on, he was easily the team’s third best player last season behind Luka Doncic and the healthy version of Kristaps Porzingis. Other times, he’d score like 5 points in 23 minutes kind of just out of nowhere. It was easy to see why Dallas was willing to deal him. Obviously great at what he does when he’s in the zone, but that was inconsistent enough to make him expendable if they had a deal they viewed as capable of improving the team.
Stats: 14.3 points, 2.8 assists, 52% three point shooting, 28.7 minutes per game, started all 13 games he’s played in
Words cannot express how badly the 2020-2021 Dallas Mavericks could use someone shooting 52% from deep at the volume that Curry is doing it. According to NBA.com, he’s shooting 61% from deep on catch and shoot opportunities while the Mavs don’t have anyone above 45%. That one person above 45% is Maxi Kleber who hasn’t played in over three weeks. Curry missed seven games due to COVID earlier this month is actually only shooting 32% (6-19) on three’s in his five games since returning.
It’s a bit of revisionist history to say the Mavericks were completely wrong to deal Curry for Josh Richardson on draft night. It was clear that Dallas needed the size, length, intensity and defensive capabilities of someone like Richardson if they wanted to take the next step in their path to contention. They didn’t expect the rest of the team to just completely fall off a cliff when it came to three point shooting in Curry’s absence.
While Dallas is certainly missing Curry’s elite shooting right now, if things eventually go in the direction they were supposed to, Richardson’s skill set will be more beneficial to Dallas in important games. Let’s just hope there actually are some important games for Dallas to play late in the season.
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