Grading Early Returns for Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki and O.J. Mayo Pairing

Ross BentleySenior Analyst IJanuary 10, 2013


On December 23, the Dallas Mavericks finally got what they have been waiting for all season: the return of Dirk Nowitzki to the lineup.

Below you can see just how excited the Dallas Mavericks fans are to have their superstar return to the starting lineup last Saturday against the Hornets


However, despite having their German superstar back on the floor, it has done little thus far to turn around the disappointing Mavericks season.

Dallas is only 1-7 since Dirk returned to action, and frustrations are boiling over all around.

On Sunday, Tim McMahon from wrote this piece in which Nowitzki suggested that the Mavs were building based on "hope" and even suggested he would be willing to be traded away from the team he has spent his entire career with.

Although owner Mark Cuban brushed off those comments, it stands as a testament to the fact that the experiment of bringing in a bunch of one-year players has not been working to this point as the Mavs fall deeper and deeper into a hole they may not be able to dig their way out of.

You can sense the frustration of Dirk in this interview that the Mavericks plan is not working. Although he may not actually want to be traded, he does want to win, and this team is not a winning team at this point.



However, one reason for the Mavericks and their fans to be optimistic for the remainder of this season is that they finally get to see how good Nowitzki and the team's leading scorer O.J. Mayo can be on the floor together.

Mayo came out of the gates hot in his first season in Dallas. He averaged more than 20 points a game in the month of November and shot nearly 50 percent from the field.

Including a 40-point blowup against the Rockets earlier this season.

Mayo showed just want kind of scorer he could be, but he hasn't been able to do it consistently enough for the Mavs this season.

Once Mayo began to struggle, so did the team. In December he averaged three less points per game and shot five percent less.  Dallas then began their free fall to where they are now, well below .500.

Still, when Nowitzki returned, the Mavericks hoped that the two stars would have instant chemistry that would help turn their season in the right direction. Unfortunately, thus far that has simply not been the case.

Above you can see O.J. Mayo's points performances since Dirk Nowitzki has come back to the lineup for the Mavericks. Mayo has been below his season average of 18.3 in every game but one, a game in which he played 46 minutes and took 21 shots, and is averaging just 13.2 PPG since December 23. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Mavericks have won only one game in that stretch as well. Although it is too early to tell if Mayo's struggles are directly related to Nowitzki being in the lineup, the timing is too suspicious to ignore.

Perhaps all Nowitzki and Mayo need is time to figure one another out to become the dominant duo many believed they could be.

The problem is, if they wait too much longer to get things going, it could be too late to save the Mavs' season.

Grade: C-

*All stats are accurate as of January 9, 2013 and do not include the Mavericks game against the Los Angeles Clippers.