The Mavericks are in the midst of one of their worst seasons in recent memory, sitting at 16-23. We decided to do a deep-dive into some advanced statistics in an attempt to find in which areas the Mavs were deficient. What we found confirmed what we already believed: The Mavericks are an average team that does almost nothing exceptionally well, and a few important things terribly.
The Mavericks are shooting the ball well enough. The league average field goal percentage (FG%) is 44.7%, and the Mavs have matched that percentage to the decimal. If you adjust the formula for FG% to weigh accordingly for 3 pointers and free throws, the league’s True Shooting percentage is 53% and the Mavs’ TS% is 53.1%. Dallas’ opponents have been draining their shots at almost the exact same clip: 44.7 FG% and 53.7 TS%.
So if the Mavericks are shooting as effectively as their opposition, why have the Mavericks’ opponents scored 139 more points than them? Because their opponents have been getting more shots, obviously. How are they getting these shots? The Mavericks aren’t rebounding well enough, and they’re not getting to the free throw line as often as their opposition.
The statistics show that the Mavs are strikingly terrible at rebounding the basketball. They are in the bottom 15% of almost every rebounding metric I could find. They grab the third fewest offensive rebounds in the league, collecting only 21.97% of the available rebounds while on offense. The Mavericks have only rebounded 47.7% of the total rebounds available to them, the second worst mark in the league. Just last night, the Mavericks surrendered 20 offensive rebounds to the Timberwolves, despite Minnesota playing without Kevin Love. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that by rebounding so poorly, the Mavericks are giving their opponents more opportunities to score.
Another way the opposition is getting more shots is by getting to the free throw line more often than the Mavs. The Mavericks are averaging 21.6 free throws a game, while their opponents average 25.9. Another statistic, free throw rate (FTR), measures what percentage of a team’s total shot attempts come from free throws. 25.7% of the Mavericks’ shot attempts come from free throws, while the opposition’s FTR checks in at 30.8, the third highest in the league. The league average FTR is 27.2, so the Mavs are below average at getting to the line and surrender 3 more free throws than the average team.
On average, the Mavericks’ opposition is scoring 3.5 more points a game than them. The problems mentioned above may seem like minor deficiencies, but when a team is so average, these problems add up to losses. If the Mavericks are going to turn this season around, they’ll need to shoot more free throws, foul less, rebound more, or suddenly become more proficent in one of the many areas they’re unremarkably average in.
Data used in this post was gathered from HoopData.com and TeamRankings.com with stats accurate up to 1/12/13.