This post has to come with the “Small Sample Size” theater warning, we are just 10 games into the season. But…
Dallas’ offense looks amazing. Stunningly good. Crisp and very hard to defend.
The Mavericks are scoring 115.5 points per 100 possessions so far this season. Second best in the NBA? Cleveland. But that high-powered, star driven offense is putting 109.7 per 100 possessions — 5.8 worse than Dallas. Dallas is second in the NBA in team true shooting percentage at 58 percent (the league average is closer to 54 percent), they are third in the NBA with 18.9 percent of their possessions including an assist, but more importantly they have the best assist to turnover ratio in the league.
How are they doing it? A heavy dose of pick-and-roll with the right personnel to run it well, something Jameer Nelson told the fantastic Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN in a TrueHoop chat.
“We just play together,” Nelson said. “Coach puts us in the situation where we’re going to be successful and there’s a lot of movement, a lot of penetrating to the paint, and great guys that set picks and roll for us. And we have the best shooter out there in Dirk (Nowitzki) and he draws attention and allows you to get in the paint so it makes the playing a little easier for you.”
Dallas is running more pick-and-roll than anyone in the Association so far this season — and they should. Think about it. They can run the Monta Ellis/Dirk Nowitzki pick-and-roll that confounded everyone last season but now they also have Chandler Parsons on the weak side and you have to be careful about helping off him. Or they can run the Nelson/Tyson Chandler pick-and-roll — Chandler sets a big pick and rolls hard — and they have Nowitzki and Chandler and Ellis spacing the floor. There are multiple combinations that can run the pick-and-roll and no matter who does it they have shooters everywhere.
The bottom line, Dallas is penetrating and getting to the rim, with that breaking defenses down. Then they finish — they are hitting 68.5 percent of shots inside five feet, second best in the NBA. Add to that the team is selfless with the ball, moving it crisply, and you can’t defend it well.
Also overlooked by many but mentioned by Nelson — Rick Carlisle is as good as any coach in the league at Xs and Os. He’s an underrated coach by many casual fans and commenters (inside the league he’s pretty revered as a coach). He does a brilliant job of getting guys in good spots, getting them to play to their strengths and not to do too much.
If Dallas can keep their offense anywhere in the ballpark of this level and keep improving their defense (currently 13th in the league) this team becomes very dangerous come the playoffs.
It’s a small sample size, but Dallas is a team to keep an eye on.