On the surface, the Dallas Mavericks are off to a fine start. With a solid stat line from Luka Doncic, Dallas sits 5-3 entering the weekend. But problems are bubbling below the surface, particularly on offense.
The Mavs have struggled to score, even with former point guard Jason Kidd now running the show on the bench. But they can give themselves a spark by acquiring a player Doncic had his eye on this offseason.
The Dallas Mavericks are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA
Two seasons ago under head coach Rick Carlisle, the Mavericks were the league’s number one team in offensive rating. They were a respectable ninth last season, finishing 42-30 and earning a second consecutive trip to the postseason. Now, eight games under Kidd, Dallas’ offensive rating is 102.2, ranking 25th out of 30 teams.
Dallas’ 101.1 points per game only beat the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Detroit Pistons, three teams with a combined record of 5-22. Despite throwing up over 40 threes a game, Kidd’s club is only hitting 30.6% of them, the fourth-lowest mark in the league. They’re even struggling without defenders, going 70.5% from the charity stripe.
Kristaps Porzingis is one of the more disappointing Mavericks players. Before going down with a back injury, the Unicorn was only averaging 12.7 points on 30.2% shooting in three games. Dorian Finney-Smith, who has started all eight games, is hitting just 20% of his threes despite tossing up five of them per game. But Luka’s numbers have seen a troubling dip as well. The fourth-year superstar was a career-best 47.9% from the field and 35.0% from three in 2020-21. This season, the 22-year-old is down to 42.2% and a dismal 25.4% 3-point clip.
Goran Dragic is stuck on the Toronto Raptors’ bench
When the Toronto Raptors acquired Goran Dragic in a package for Kyle Lowry, there was already talk of the 2019 champs flipping the veteran guard. After all, it looked as if the team was transitioning more toward a rebuild than a title run. However, the Raptors made it clear to everyone, including the Mavericks, they had no intention of parting with the 35-year-old.
Despite the big plans for their new guard, the Raptors have forced Dragic to watch more than play. He started Toronto’s season-opener, scoring nine points in 22 minutes. But he was moved to the bench for game number two, fetching around 12 minutes of playing time. The 2018 All-Star played 14 minutes in each of the next two games before being relegated to a permanent spot on the bench. Dragic has yet to appear in any game since October 25.
Even though the Raptors are in a transitional period, it’s odd seeing Dragic fall entirely out of the rotation. Barring injury, it doesn’t appear as if that’s going to change anytime soon.
The Mavericks should make a move for Dragic
Dallas needs scoring, plain and simple. Even as one of the older guards in the NBA, Dragic has proven he can average 13+ points a game either as a starter or coming off of the bench. And there’s no doubt Doncic would approve of the move, as the two Slovenians have a close relationship that dates back to when Luka was a child.
With Toronto on the hook for all $19.4 million of Dragic’s salary, it would love to find a way to move on. Ultimately, that could mean parting with the 14-year veteran at the trade deadline or negotiating a buyout. But Dallas can make things easy and inquire on the guard immediately.
Currently, Doncic and Jalen Brunson are the only guards on Dallas’ roster who provide consistent minutes and production. Goran would add to that mix either as a starter or off of the bench. Furthermore, as a battle-tested player with a tough reputation, the 35-year-old would bring tenacity and leadership to a young team.
The Dallas Mavericks need something to shake up their offense. The Raptors would welcome a trade of a severely under-utilized Goran Dragic. It’s time to strike a deal.