2017-18 Kia Season Preview

One Team, One Stat -- Dallas Mavericks regress offensively with lack of paint shots, free throws

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2017-18 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Dallas Mavericks, who lived outside the paint.


The Dallas Mavericks took less than 36 percent of their shots from inside the paint last season.

Lowest percentage of shots from the paint, last 21 years


That was the lowest rate in the 21 years (since 1996-97) for which we have shot location data.

Though the league shoots threes more and more every season, the most efficient ways to score are still at the free throw line and at the basket. And when you combine free throws and shots in the restricted area, the Mavs scored 467 fewer points than any other team.

Fewest points from the restricted area and free throws

Dirk Nowitzki never was one to get to the basket often. Over his first 13 seasons in the league (through the Mavs’ championship season of 2010-11), he took only 31 percent of his shots in the paint. The league average over that time was 45 percent.

Over the last six years, Nowitzki has taken only 18 percent of his shots in the paint, the *fourth lowest rate among 179 players who have attempted at least 2,500 shots over that time. He’s become almost exclusively a jump-shooter and he’s taken more than twice as many mid-range shots as 3-pointers in those six years. So he’s not getting the best value for shots from outside the paint.

* Players with 2,500 or more field goal attempts who have taken a lower percentage of them from the paint over the last six years: J.J. Redick (18 percent), Jose Calderon (14 percent) and Kyle Korver (seven percent).

Neither was Harrison Barnes in his first season with Dallas. Barnes got into the paint more than Nowitzki last season, but 63 percent of his shots were from between the restricted area and 3-point range, the least efficient area of the floor. And that was the fourth highest rate among 38 players who took at least 1,000 shots.

The pair combined to average just 5.6 free throw attempts per game and the Mavs ranked 29th in free throw rate as a team, attempting just 22 freebies for every 100 shots from the field. With their inefficient shots and lack of free throws, the Mavs scored 2.5 fewer points per 100 possessions than the league average, making it their worst offensive season since they drafted Nowitzki 19 years ago.

Rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is an athletic guard who will attack the paint and the Mavs will have Nerlens Noel‘s rolls to the rim for at least another year. But Barnes is the guy they’re paying $24 million a year to be their new go-to guy. To live up to his contract, he needs to be more efficient by getting to the basket and to the line more often.

Mavs last five seasons


History: Season by season results | Advanced stats | Franchise leaders

2016-17: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups


  1. Rick Carlisle missed the playoffs for just the third time in his 15 seasons as head coach with Detroit, Indiana and Dallas. It was the first time in his 15 seasons that his team was worse than average on both ends of the floor.
  2. One of two teams (Sacramento was the other) that ranked in the bottom five in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. The Mavs ranked last in both offensive rebounding percentage and total rebounding percentage, grabbing just 46.4 percent of available boards. They’ve ranked in the bottom 10 in total rebounding percentage in each of the last six seasons.
  3. Ranked 29th in pace last season, averaging just 94.2 possessions per 48 minutes, down from 96.4 the season before. That was the league’s second biggest drop in pace from 2015-16 to ’16-17.
  4. Led by double-digits in the first quarter only eight times, fewest in the league.
  5. Set to return 11 players who accounted for 81 percent of last season’s minutes. Only Phoenix had a worse record and is set to return a higher percentage.

Mavs shooting stats


  1. Only team that has regressed offensively (scoring fewer points per 100 possessions) than they did the season before each of the last three seasons.
  2. As noted above, 2016-17 was the Mavs’ worst offensive season (they scored 2.5 points per 100 possessions fewer than the league average) since they drafted Nowitzki in 1998. It was only the second time they scored fewer points per 100 possessions than the league average in those 19 seasons. And with the league average OffRtg jumping from 103.9 to 106.2 points scored per 100 possessions, the Mavs were one of only four teams who scored fewer points per 100 possessions in 2016-17 than they did in ’15-16.
  3. Only 8.8 percent of their possessions, the lowest rate in the league, were in transition. The 1.03 points per possession they scored in transition was the fourth lowest rate. According to SportVU, they ranked last with just 3.7 pass-ahead passes (where the ball is passed from the backcourt to the frontcourt, traveling at least 18 feet toward the basket) per game.
  4. Ranked third in turnover rate, turning the ball over just 12.6 times per 100 possessions. They’ve ranked in the top five in 16 of the last 20 seasons.
  5. Were one of three teams that isolated on more than 10 percent of their possessions.

Mavs four factors


  1. One of six teams that has been worse than average defensively in each of the last five seasons. Their streak of five straight seasons with a worse-than-average defense has followed a streak of eight straight seasons with a better-than-average defense.
  2. Led the league in opponent turnover percentage last season, forcing 15.7 turnovers per 100 possessions. They forced 1.6 more turnovers per 100 possessions than they did the season before, with league-wide turnover rate decreasing by 0.6 and hitting an all-time low. Ranking in the top three in turnover rate on both ends of the floor, they 253 fewer turnovers than their opponents. No other team had a negative turnover differential better than -159.
  3. One of two teams (the Lakers were the other) that ranked in the bottom five in opponent field goal percentage in the restricted area (28th) and in opponent 3-point percentage (29th).
  4. 26.7 percent of their opponents’ 3-point attempts were from the corners. That was the second highest rate in the league (behind only that of Milwaukee – 30.8 percent).
  5. One of three teams (Detroit and Indiana were the others) that ranked in the top 10 in defensive efficiency at home (where they allowed 102.8 points per 100 possessions) and in the bottom 10 on the road (where they allowed 109.8). Also one of two teams (Detroit was the other) that ranked in the bottom 10 in defensive efficiency in the first half of games (when they allowed 108.1 points per 100 possessions) and in the top 10 in the second half (when they allowed 104.6).


  1. Their 11 most-used lineups outscored their opponents by 5.5 points per 100 possessions in 1,015 total minutes. All other Dallas lineups were outscored by 5.4 points per 100 possessions in 2,938 minutes.
  2. Lineup of Yogi Ferrell, Seth Curry, Wesley Matthews, Barnes and Nowitzki had both the lowest turnover rate (10.8 per 100 possessions) and the lowest rebounding percentage (grabbing only 44.1 percent of available boards) among 46 lineups that played at least 200 minutes together.
  3. 664 (76 percent) of Barnes and Nowitzki’s 871 minutes were played at the four and five, with no other bigs on the floor. In the 207 minutes in which the pair played with another big, the Mavs were outscored by 12.0 points per 100 possessions.
  4. The only Mavs who played at least 500 minutes and had a positive plus-minus for the season were back-up point guards Devin Harris (plus-38) and J.J. Barea (plus-11).
  5. Before they traded him at the deadline, they allowed just 97.4 points per 100 possessions with Andrew Bogut on the floor and 108.5 with him off the floor.
  6. Played only 86 minutes with Nowitzki and Noel on the floor without Barnes, but outscored their opponents by 35 points in those 86 minutes.


  1. Harrison Barnes had a usage rate of 25.5 percent last season, up from 15.9 percent the season before. That increase of 9.6 was the largest in the league among 244 players who played at least 500 minutes in 2015-16 and 1,000 minutes in ’16-17.
  2. Barnes took just 17.3 percent of his shots from 3-point range, down from 33.8 percent in his last season with Golden State. That was the biggest drop in 3PA/FGA among players who took at least 250 total shots in ’15-16 and at least 500 in ’16-17. But because he took more than twice as many shots, he made only four fewer threes than he did in ’15-16.
  3. Barnes led the league with 275 field goal attempts in the last six seconds of shot clock. His effective field goal percentage on those shots (47.8 percent) ranked 17th among 64 players with at least 100 attempts. He shot 49.3 percent on clutch shots, the third best mark among players who attempted at least 50.
  4. Barnes (5.9 turnovers per 100 possessions used) and Dirk Nowitzki (6.3) had the two lowest turnover rates among the 45 players with a usage rate of 25 percent or more. They also had the second and seventh lowest assist rates among that group.
  5. Seth Curry ranked sixth in the league in 3-point percentage. His effective field goal percentage of 57.8 percent also ranked sixth among 103 players who attempted at least 700 shots, just behind that of his brother (58.0 percent).
  6. The Mavs were 13-4 when Curry scored 18 points or more.
  7. Dorian Finney-Smith was one of only six rookies to play in more than 80 games last season. The Mavs were 6-2 when he scored in double-figures and six of the eight games were in December.
  8. In each of Wesley Matthews‘ two seasons in Dallas, he has been one of three players to shoot less than 40 percent on at least 750 shots. His effective field goal percentage of 49.7 percent in his two seasons with the Mavs is down from 54.7 percent over his last three seasons with Portland (and before his Achilles injury).
  9. Dwight Powell shot 73.1 percent in the restricted area, the seventh best mark among 185 players who attempted at least 150 restricted-area shots.

NBA TV’s Mavs preview premieres at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, Sept. 28.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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