Mavs Still Searching For Offense

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Back in December, Mark Cuban chose to break up his championship roster, in part to chase a big free agent this summer, and in part because the new collective bargaining agreement — with its more punitive luxury tax coming in 2013 — called for “a different methodology for building a team.”

The biggest change the Mavs made was sending Tyson Chandler to New York via sign-and-trade. Chandler was the heart of the Mavs’ improved defense last season and arguably their second-most important player.

Four months later, the Mavs look like a long shot to make it back to The Finals. And with eight games remaining in the season, they’ve still got some work to do just to make it to the postseason.

But interestingly, the Chandler-less defense hasn’t been the problem for Dallas. After ranking seventh in defensive efficiency last season, they’re right back in the same spot this year, allowing less than a point per possession.

Instead, it’s been the Mavs’ offense that has held them back.

Mavs pace and efficiency, last two seasons

Season Pace Rank OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
2010-11 93.4 19 107.6 8 102.3 7 +5.3 7
2011-12 93.8 15 100.0 23 98.7 7 +1.3 16

Only one team has regressed more offensively than the Mavs have. Ironically, it’s Chandler’s Knicks, who are scoring eight fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season.

A look at the Mavs’ offensive numbers reveals that their regression mostly comes down to shooting…

Mavs offense, last two seasons

Season 2PT% Rank 3PT% Rank OREB% Rank TO% Rank FTA Rate Rank
2010-11 51.6% 1 36.5% 11 24.1% 26 15.0 19 .286 21
2011-12 48.1% 12 33.3% 22 23.3% 28 14.9 9 .247 26

OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions

Chandler is known for his defense, but he’s also a very efficient scorer, one of the league’s best finishers near the basket. And that’s one area where the Mavs’ shooting has dropped off considerably…

Mavs shooting, last two seasons

Season Restr. Area Rank Paint (Non-RA) Rank Mid-range Rank Corner 3 Rank Above Break 3 Rank
2010-11 65.0% 2 39.8% 11 45.0% 1 39.4% 14 35.7% 11
2011-12 61.9% 7 37.2% 20 40.6% 7 34.6% 23 33.3% 20

The Mavs are still very good from the restricted area and from mid-range, but they had a top-10 offense last season in part because they were great from those areas.

Shooting them at an incredible 72 percent, Chandler ranked second on the Mavs in attempts within the restricted area last season. He’s obviously missed.

In each of the last two seasons, Shawn Marion has led them in attempts near the basket. Although he’s shooting at just below the league average this year (59 percent), he’s regressed quite a bit from last season (68 percent). Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood have also regressed more than six percent from the restricted area as well.

Nowitzki is also responsible for some the mid-range regression. He’s still one of the best mid-range shooters in the league, hitting 47 percent of his shots between the paint and the arc (the league average is 39 percent). But he shot 53 percent from mid-range last year, and since he ranks second in the league in mid-range attempts, any regression there is going to hurt the Mavs offensively.

Corner threes? The Mavs miss DeShawn Stevenson, who led them with 45 of them on 109 attempts last season.


We know that Nowitzki had a bit of a championship hangover at the start of the year. Maybe the Mavs did as a whole, too. But with just two weeks left in the season, they still haven’t found any sort of rhythm offensively. They ranked 19th in offensive efficiency before the All-Star break and have just the 23rd-best offense since, scoring more than a point per possession in just four of their last 10 games.

The Mavs have a two-game cushion as they try to hold on to a playoff spot, but they do play six of their final eight games on the road, where they’re just 11-16 this far. And if they can’t take care of business at Golden State (Thursday) and Portland (Friday), they will be playing a huge game in Utah on Monday.

Will they miss the playoffs? Probably not. Will they be much of a threat in the playoffs? Probably not.

Unless, of course, they can start putting the ball in the basket.


  1. xad says:

    angel_ball, mavs and heat are not in the same conference..just sayin’,.if they can avoid either the Thunder or Spurs in the first and second round, they might make an upset in the west finals..but for now, they need to get some momentum heading into the playoffs

  2. heh says:

    I can see the Mavericks making another championship run this year… they definitely have the potential. If they can get it together in time, they’re only real challenges in the West are the Thunder and Spurs IMO.

  3. angel_ball says:


  4. MFFL41 says:

    I feel like Mavs are gonna lock in for remaining games because no more distractions, no more negative energy, or waiting for guys to pick up their game. I felt defining moment last year was when Mavs beat Lakers after Dirk/Butler suffered injuries. Maybe it’s the same case this year…

  5. peter says:

    Miami heat will not be the champions. LebronJames will choke. If he does not coach Spoelstra will.

  6. swish21 says:

    yeah jose heat wave coming.. they said it also last year.. multiple championships??? or triple chokers??? what happened to your heat?? CHOKED!!!!! hahahaha LETS GO MAVS!!!!!!!! ALL THE WAY!!!!!

  7. David says:

    Hey JOSE, nobody cares about your heat wave dude. None of the players in your team have the attitude of a champion anyways. Mavs are still the best to me because they always keep fighting and playing hard even when things aren’t going well. Whoever we face in the playoffs, were going to give them a run for their money at the very least!

  8. anonymous says:

    Bynum vs. Rondo. 30 vs. 20. Big man vs. Point Guard. Who wins? Well, which is it? Which stat is more impressive? The answer is…

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  9. sam says:

    Vince Carter gotta step up more for Dallas.

  10. TTKIN says:

    I love Dirk, he’s my favorite player depsite being a LAKER fan, but I want to see that killer instinct from last year. His killer instinct last year even beat out Kobe’s. Anyone else remember the Mavs basically overcoming a 15 point disadvantage in Game 2 with like 5 mins left against Miami IN Miami? Remember, Dirk was the one who drained the three to tie it (wasnt exactly open), and then with his off hand took the lead and basically the series for Dallas. He hasnt had that this year. When Kobe won, it was like giving a starving person a single bite of food, it only made him hungrier. Where is that from Dirk?? Is he saving it for the playoffs? Let’s hope. Cuz although I want my Lakers to win it all, if I had to pick someone else, I’m going Dallas. And after that, it’s gotta be Chicago. Just so long as neither the Clippers nor the Heat nor the Celtics win haha.

  11. Angelo says:

    i won’t be too worried about them. cuban looked at the big picture. he’s not really looking for the mavs to repeat. he’s building for the future. why else would you take an aging Carter and give up Chandler, Barrea? He got plans. Patience, Mavs fans. There are no shortcuts (I’m talking to you, Heat wave). as for Dirk, Kidd, JET, Matrix, they’re old but smart. Come playoffs, experience is still a better weapon than physical abilities.

  12. Zac says:

    Dallas has a lot veteran players who will make shots when it counts.

    if the only problem Dallas has is the offensive FG% and 3p%, that should be a BIG concern for each opponent they face. Because this part changes from day-to-day. Over a 7 game series, if you have 3 good shooting nights and 3 bad shooting nights, if shooting% is your only concern, you can win any series.

  13. roger says:

    I think it’s different this year. Last year, the Mavs were written off by the media, but by the stats, they were still one of the premier teams in the league going into the playoffs, it’s just that no one gave them any respect.

    But everyone knows defense wins championships so i wouldn’t write them off yet. Offenses just need to get hot.

  14. Dallas is still playing good defense and in the playoffs its all about half court offense not run and gun regular season, with dirk and terry coming off the bench they can compete with anybody and they have a go to player who can get his own shot at any time, nobody in the west is running away with it, the playoffs will separete the men from the boys, never under estimate the heart of a champion.

  15. JOSE631 says:


  16. Rhishabh Deshpande says:

    The Mavs Surely have dropped on Offense this season.They Surely Need to buck up before its too late.Especially Dirk , who probably is one the the all time greats.

  17. James Morris says:

    You cant write off the Mav’s just yet, last year, tey were not picked to win any of those series they played in. They managed to overcome obstacles and make it into the playoffs and win a ring, this is not the same team as last year. As long as they have DIrk and we all kno what he did in the playoffs, so as long as he plays like he did last year and everybody else play their part they will be fine. whoever writes them off this early are in for a rude awakening

  18. Saa says:

    Mavericks just look like a shell of their former selves =(.

  19. HEAT_maybe_NEXT_year_CHAMPS says:

    the MAIN reason for MAVS offensive struggle are frequent changes in their starting lineup, and most of those changes and rotations are due to injuries and Carlisle experimenting too much finding the proper fit/role of the new players !!!

    at the beginning of the season it was Dirk with back problems and not feeling in good shape……he missed 4-5 games,

    then it was Delonte…….then was Haywood with 5-6 games and starting with Miahimi…………then Marion…….KID…..etc

    Lamar making “troubles” in his new team……………..all this reflects on their game and i am not surprised

    Carter so far was great, he can be even better , Bilbous is another player that needs to find its way- he is great too !!!

    many things would depend of Delonte and especially Brandan Wright (this guy is BIG positive surprise )

    in short : MAVS with their “endless” DEPTH are still very serious TEAM, maybe not favorites but for sure TITLE contenders !!!

    • JOSE631 says:


      • lody says:

        everybody saying that the lastyear mavs are no worthy champions have no idea of basketball.Last year they had a functioning team, this year it was all about losing players on trades, injuries and trying to adjust to that. not to mention the odom-saga….

      • dhyles says:

        There is very little luck involved in winning an nba championship. The reason for this is the 7-game series. In the nba playoffs, the best team almost always wins in best 4 of 7. Ask any nba expert. You ask what kink of champions are they? I’ll tell you what kind–NBA champions–that’s what kind. Last year the navs were a better team than the Heat, and the operative word is team. There is no better basketball player on the planet than LeBron. But championships are seldom won on individual talent alone. Look back at the history of this league. Last year is proof. Is there any question that Miami has more star power than Dallas? I don’t think so. But the mavs of last year were more cohesive, less-error-prone, and better coached. Look at the spurs. It’s about execution, preparation, team play and smart coaching; thats how nba champs are made. The heat will get theirs, but don’t falll into the trap of thinking that last years champs were ‘lucky’. It’s was the perfect storm of team play, execution, proper application of talent, excellent coaching, a unified effort and the play of one of the great closers in the history of this game. The more any nba teams depends on sheer athleticism in the long term, the less likely they are to win it all. It can happen; but it’s rare. NBA history is lttered with champs who were not the highest jumpers or fastest runners. The NBA is star-driven, but basketball is a team sport; don’t ever foget it.