They’re too old.
Not enough star power.
Not enough offensive firepower.
Dirk’s too old.
The roster’s just slapped together.
And so on and so forth.
Regardless of the conjecture, the Mavericks are one of the NBA’s early surprises through the season’s first quarter, getting off to a 13-8 start, leaving them only three games back of the division-leading San Antonio Spurs and a game and a half back of the Houston Rockets, both teams they’ll be fighting tooth and nail through the rest of the season.
The dynamic duo of Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis are playing some really nice basketball in tandem, between them accounting for 42.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game. The Mavericks have been searching for a while now for a guard with the ability to be a perimeter threat, but also slash well enough to be able to create open shots for Dirk, and they appear to have found just that in Ellis.
Because defenses are required to stay honest and play more loosely in a 2-3 or matchup zone than they would have against previous incarnations of the Mavericks where the offense always ran through Nowitzki, ironically, Nowitzki is getting better looks. Many of the mid-range jumpers — and even threes — that he’s taken through the first 21 games have been wide open and uncontested, and as we all know he doesn’t miss many of those.
While the Mavericks are 23rd in team defense (giving up 101.9 points per game) they’re seventh in team offense, averaging 103.7 points per game and shooting at an impressive 46.4 percent from the field, 39 percent from three and 81.1 percent from the line. The first two stats suggest a budding, comprehensive chemistry. Any team that shoots over 45% from the field and 35-37 percent from three is getting a ton of open looks.
If this same chemistry can eventually transfer over to the defensive end, and the Mavericks can work their way into the Top 15 team defenses in the NBA, the early season post-mortems may turn out what they now appear to be.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer, Business Analyst and College Content Coordinator for Rant Sports.