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According to stats, Luka Dončić is the Mavs biggest problem this season

Luka-Doncic

Since he joined the team, Kristaps Porzingis has shouldered the blame for Dallas Mavericks’ struggles. But, stats indicate that Luka Dončić is the Mavs’ biggest problem this year.

Luka Dončić’s plus/minus affecting the Mavs this season

Dončić is often seen as the Mavs’ savior. He wins ball games with clutch shots and all-around performance. The front office built the team to allow Dončić to become the best version of himself. However, this year, stats prove that Luka has become one of the major problems of Mavs this season.

Free-throw shooting is not Luka’s best asset but the steep decline this year hurts Dallas. As one of the superstars on the team, he initiates offense and handles the ball in crucial moments, resulting in opposing teams fouling him more often. If Dončić cannot sink his freebies to a respectable level, other teams could capitalize on this weakness to their advantage. 

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The plus/minus on the floor indicates a positive impact for any player. It is not exclusive to scoring only but also doing other things to help the team win. This season Luka Dončić is a minus 110, 2nd worst in the league behind Kemba Walker. What have the Knicks done to Kemba because of his inefficiency? Coach Thibs removed him from the starting lineup and froze him out of rotation. Luka won’t face the same fate, but it’s not a good sign to be second on that list.

What the Mavericks need to do moving forward

The Mavericks are slumping at 10-9 in the Western Conference. They lost their last two assignments, and in a competitive conference, a string of losses could result in being out of the playoff picture. A lot of expectations were placed in Dallas this year. They overhauled the coaching staff for a fresh start, and it worked for Kristaps Porzingis. The Latvian has been playing some of his best basketball since his New York Knicks days. If the Mavs have solved their problem with KP, they should start addressing the issues with Luka.

At the risk of frustrating Dončić, who signed a max extension in the offseason, part of being a team’s superstar is to be accountable. If he’s playing poorly or impacts the team negatively when he’s on the floor, it’s either he improves or the coaching staff make drastic changes to the lineup and style of play.

The starting 5 of Dončić, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, Porzingis, and Dwight Powell is horrible when it comes to 3-point percentage. Collectively, these five are getting outscored by 19.4 points this season per Cleaning the Glass. 

Last season, the Mavs had some success with Maxi Kleber inserted in the starting five over Powell mainly because of his ability to shoot 3s. With Kleber, Dallas outscored opponents by as much as 11.2 points. With Powell, DFS, and Doncic, Dallas is getting torched by as much as 14.3 points. 

Coach Kidd needs to add a playmaker and outside shooting when KP and Dončić are on the floor. Jalen Brunson and Reggie Bullock could provide playmaking and outside shooting and should replace DFS or Dwight Powell. The team is still finding its consistency on the floor, but the problems with Luka should be addressed as early as now if they want to make the postseason.

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