One Team, One Stat: Mavericks Shoot Bad Shots Well

From Media Day until opening night, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. Up next are the Dallas Mavericks, who are, once again, putting new pieces around Dirk Nowitzki.

The basics
DAL Rank
W-L 41-41 17
Pace 96.2 8
OffRtg 103.6 11
DefRtg 104.0 20
NetRtg -0.4 16

The stat

32.7 - Percentage of their shots that the Mavs took from the restricted area or the corners, the lowest rate in the league.

The context

Shots from the restricted area and in the corners are the two most efficient shots on the floor, both worth about 1.2 points per shot across the league last season.

The Mavs have been unique in passing them up and mostly getting away with it. With Dirk Nowitzki leading the way, they’ve been a good and high-volume mid-range shooting team. And they had a top-10 offense for 12 straight years, beginning with Nowitzki’s second season in the league and ending with their championship season in 2010-11.

The season after the lockout, the Mavs fell to 20th offensively, but were still a top-five mid-range shooting team. The same was true again last season, but they had very little scoring inside. Shawn Marion‘s 188 baskets in the restricted area led the team, but ranked 63rd in the league. And in addition to Nowitzki (437/62), they had two bigs – Elton Brand (206/133) and Chris Kaman (296/193) — that took more mid-range shots than shots from the restricted area.

Both guys can knock ‘em down, and it certainly pays to have bigs who can step outside and shoot. But while there’s a positive correlation between offensive efficiency and mid-range shooting percentage, there’s a stronger negative correlation between offensive efficiency and the percentage of shots you take from mid-range.

Mavs shooting by area, 2012-13

Area FG% Rank %FGA Rank
Restricted area 60.9% 12 27.1% 29
Other paint 42.7% 3 17.8% 3
Mid-range 42.2% 3 31.4% 8
Corner 3 36.5% 23 5.6% 20
Above-break 3 38.0% 2 17.8% 11

Basically, it’s good if you can shoot 2-point jumpers well, but it’s bad if you depend on them too much. As we learned from Evan Turner, even if you shoot mid-range shots well, you can be more efficient by taking better shots.

The following video is from an April 2 game in L.A., one the Mavs really needed to have a shot at making the playoffs (they were just a game in the loss column behind the Lakers at the time). They shot a decent 42.4 percent from mid-range, but those shots accounted for 33 of their 81 shots (41 percent) . They took just 15 shots in the restricted area, just four from the corners, and just 12 free throws. So, even though their shooting wasn’t awful, they got held to 81 points by what was a below-average defensive team.


The Mavs were one of three teams — Cleveland and New York were the others — that shot better on above-the-break 3-pointers than they did on corner threes last year. So again, they shot the bad shots (above-the-break threes being bad relative to corner threes) well.

But that’s probably not sustainable. And the guy that led the Mavs with 64 attempts (71st in the league) from the corners was O.J. Mayo, who is now in Milwaukee.

It’s another fascinating supporting cast that Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have brought in this season. Monta Ellis ranked ninth in the league with 475 mid-range shots last season, and shot them worse than anyone else in the top 20. Jose Calderon, meanwhile, was one of the best mid-range shooters in the league and also a great 3-point shooter, but doesn’t shoot from the corners much.

Devin Harris will get to the rim, and there’s no worry about DeJuan Blair and Samuel Dalembert taking too many jump shots. But neither big will dominate down low .

More important will be how the bigs defend. After ranking in the top 10 in defensive efficiency each of the previous two seasons, the Mavs ranked 20th defensively last season. (Not breaking news: Kaman is neither Tyson Chandler nor Brendan Haywood on that end.)

If Nowitzki is healthy all season, the Mavs should be OK offensively. And they can be better than OK if they find ways to get better shots.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

10 Comments

  1. lebro says:

    I wouldn’t call above-the-break threes “bad shots.” Any shot is a “good shot” if you shoot a higher percentage on those than some other shots. If the mavericks shot 90% on midrange shots, then those would actually be good shots.

  2. Mavsfan says:

    The Mavericks are going to make the playoffs for the fact nobody thinks they are going to make the playoffs. This is an under the radar team, while everybody is paying attention to Thunder, Grizz, Spurs, Clipps, Warriors the Mavs will quietly make the playoffs. #MFFL #sleeperteam

  3. Dirktheman says:

    You do realize you are writing a stat report on a team with 9 new players… Not the same team idiot. Should have wrote this last year…

  4. Dee Wig says:

    I love how people are writing off my Mavs saying Dirk is too old and the West is too deep…but what people fail to realize is that as long as the Mavs have a healthy Dirk, they’ll be good to go. Also, Dirk and Monte have already got some good chemistry going in the preseason. I’m extremely confident that this Mavs team will at least make the playoffs

  5. tanibanana says:

    They’re line-up is not at par to be Conference champs contender,,,
    But as long they stay healthy.. they have a good chance reaching West-Semis..
    I hope Dirk stay healthy for the entire season and playoffs!

  6. BlackDove- says:

    Mark Cuban has no more options. He couldnt sign DHoward, could get DWill. Worst of all He broke up his championship team? why to free cap space!
    Wake Up Cuban Dallas is not a desired destination for free agents.
    ps Keep an eye on Monta, his a tom cat

  7. Sunny says:

    Long times fan of Dirt. Listen, without coach and Dirt, there is no future here.Therefore,Mark you have not doing anything good for 3 years now. You either rebuild or sign some good players here or all of us chinese fans will never watch your team again. No more excuses now , do something,or else!!

    • Josh McKlaren says:

      You’re kidding right, the mavs have signed some great players this year, its spelled dirk have some respect for one of the greatest players all time, the mavs have already made themselves a playoff team after missing one year and i doubt they care if the idiot fans such as yourself watch them or not

  8. okc2014 says:

    Don’t really see Mavericks making the playoffs again this season either, with the last three seeds up for grabs, they have to compete w/ Minnesota, New Orleans and Denver (OKC, Spurs, Rockets, GSW & Clippers already in). So my hope , is that Dirk gets traded to the Thunder, where all of his great talents can be put to playoff use. Go Thunder!!!