Taking Requests — The Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks after 28 games.

Okapi asked yesterday for an analysis of the Mavericks this year. After looking at the data there are few surprises about this team. As expected, the Mavericks are one of the better teams in 2006-07. Last year this team was led by Dirk Nowitzki, with help primarily coming from Erick Dampier and Josh Howard. In 2006-07 the team is again led by Nowitzki, with even more help coming from Dampier and Howard.

All three of the leading players on the Mavericks have improved. This is good, since the team’s off-season moves are not paying off yet. Last summer the team lost both Marquis Daniels and Adrian Griffin, two players who were above average in 2005-06.

Speaking of Griffin, for his career he has posted a Wins Produced per 48 minutes [WP48] of 0.192. So Griffin being above average is not a surprise. For those who have read The Wages of Wins Journal since last June you might recall a post on the NBA Finals – “Thoughts After Game Four – The Dallas Mavericks Story” – extolling the virtues of Griffin. In essence, Griffin is one of those non-scorers frequently under-rated by NBA observers. Nevertheless, he does create wins for teams that bother to employ and play him.

This year the Mavericks are not employing Griffin. To replace him and Daniels the team added Greg Buckner, Austin Croshere, and Devean George. So far, none of these players that Dallas hired last summer are playing as well as they did last year. This has not been a problem thus far since the team is receiving so much from their big three. However, if the big three return to what they did last year, Dallas might have some problems.

One last comment on the Mavericks: Jerry Stackhouse, as I noted in the playoffs last year, is not a very productive player. Yes, Stackhouse can score. But he scores inefficiently. In essence – he is the anti-Griffin (which sounds like something out of a bad fairy tale).

After 28 games Stackhouse had taken 47 shots from three point range and only made twelve. That is a 26% shooting percentage from outside the arc. From two point range he is only shooting 45%, which is also below average. Stackhouse is the classic scorer who only gets points because his team let’s him take a large number of shots. And since he does little else besides taking shots, he doesn’t contribute much to wins. This story, which we have seen throughout his career, is the same story the data tells us this year.

As the season progresses we can expect the Mavericks – if the big three stay healthy – to remain among the league’s elite. Dallas may even win a title this year. But Stackhouse will not be the reason this team is successful. At least, that is how I read the data.

— DJ

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