Having an impressive run in the NBA for a whole season comes with a lot of baggage.
Behind the adoration of the crowd and the respect of the league, a team that is unexpected to have a big run and defy the odds creates enormous pressure heading into next season.
That’s the boat the Dallas Mavericks found themselves in at the start of the 2020-21 campaign.
Last season, with a sophomore Luka Dončić leading the way, the Mavericks secured the seventh-seed out in the West after they finished with a record of 43-32.
The then 20-year-old Dončić averaged 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists and was selected in his first All-Star selection, his first All-NBA first team selection and was one of the contenders for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
This campaign, Dallas is having a very slow start and is playing far from the standard they set a year ago.
The Mavericks are currently way outside the playoff picture, sitting 13th in the West with a record of 8-13. They’re behind teams that don’t have a player on the level of Dončić: Oklahoma, Sacramento, San Antonio and Houston are all having a better start.
Aside from that, they have now lost six-straight games falling to the hands of the Rockets, the Nuggets, Utah (twice) and Phoenix (twice).
After their loss to Utah, Dončić made his frustrations known after the game.
However, after their most recent loss against the Suns where Dončić (25 points, eight assists and five rebounds) and Devin Booker (24 points) put on a show down the stretch, the 21-year-old star is now confident that their slump is about to end.
The Mavericks are expected to play on a higher level this season after their run a season ago but based off their start this season, they’re nowhere near the greatness that are expected from them.
To put things into context, the Mavs finished last season with the most efficient regular season offense in league history. They had an offensive rating of 115.9 points per 100 possessions, and narrowly beat the previous record of 115 set by the Golden State Warriors in 2018-19.
This season, they’re sitting in the low end of the middle of the pack with an offensive rating of 109.6. That places them in 20th place. Their offense was the key differentiator, too. Their defensive ratings from 2019- 20 (111.7) and this year (111.6) are almost identical, and are both good for 18th in the NBA.
There’s still time for Dallas to reverse course, but signs are that something is amiss in their offense. It could be the loss of streaky scorer Seth Curry, who averaged 12.4 points a game including a 45.2% clip from three, and 54.9% from inside the arc.
There’s also a lack of someone else to take playmaking duties off of their young star, and some perplexing decision-making from a usually calm and collected coach in Rick Carlisle.
What do you think about this piece? Do you think Dallas can get it together? Sound off in the comment section!