Finally, Dallas Mavericks Aren't Living and Dying by Field Goal Percentages

Alex McVeighSenior Analyst INovember 9, 2009

I’m officially off of the ledge. After an opening night loss that sent me into a spiral of shame and intravenous drug abuse, the Dallas Mavericks seem to be finally realizing their potential.

Even a crushing loss to the New Orleans Hornets hasn’t derailed what has been a good week and a half for the Mavericks, and with Josh Howard’s return, things are looking up.

So what changed my mood you ask? Well, it’s simple. I looked at some stats, read some articles, and came up with a fact that really makes me feel good about the Mavs’ season.

The Dallas Mavericks aren’t shooting very well.

You read it right. The Mavericks have shot better than 50 percent only once (the blowout against the Raptors) and beat the Lakers, Clippers, and Jazz by shooting 41 percent.

So why is that a good thing?

The Mavericks feature a lot of good shooters. Things tend to regress to the mean, there’s a reason people like Jason Terry, Dirk, and Marion are good shooters, they tend to average out at 44, 45, and 48 percent, respectively. So when they’re shooting below that, you know they’re going to rebound (pardon the pun).

That means the Mavericks are finding other ways to win besides their shooting, which used to be the only way they could win.

The Mavericks used to be the poster boy for teams that lived and died by their jumper. A jump shot is by its very nature hot and cold, and when it’s not falling, good teams find a way to overcome.

The Mavs used to not be able to overcome, and the result last season was no win streak longer than five games, and crushing losses to terrible teams right when it seemed the Mavs were gaining momentum.

Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News makes a fantastic point in an article, calling the Mavs “a team that once believed the fastest way to the win column was getting to 100 points.”

And it’s true. How many times have we heard the stats about how Dallas is sub- .500 in games where they don’t score 100 points, or that when Josh Howard scores 20 or more, the Mavs win at an 80 percent clip?

This year’s Mavs seemed to have discovered a secret, one passed down from the gods themselves: defense.

They are rotating to the ball very well, something that used to give them a lot of trouble. Teams like the Spurs and Jazz move the ball around the perimeter very well, and in the Jazz game, we were able to see a lot better switched on defense, not letting people take open jumpers.

Erick Dampier has been clogging the lane, averaging 2.5 blocks per game (!!!) this season so far.

Shawn Marion is making life hell on perimeter players. Alright, to be fair, except for Kobe, the Mavs haven’t faced too many dynamic perimeter scorers except for Kobe, but it’s a start.

They’re also getting smarter with the ball, forcing 15.5 turnovers per game (12th), while only turning the ball over 13.8 times a game (10th). The ratio is among the best in the league, with the Mavs being one of only eight teams that are forcing more than one turnover per game higher than they are turning it over themselves.

And those are the kind of tendencies that stick with teams, so that when the jump shots are falling and the defense is clicking, that’s when you see blowouts and garbage time.

And for a team like the Mavs who rank among the oldest, garbage time sounds pretty good to me.