We have officially reached the halfway point of the NBA season and the Dallas Mavericks still have the best offence in league history.
Better than the Superteam Warriors, Showtime Lakers and Jordan Bulls, this Mavericks squad - which hasn't had a top-ten offence in five years - is now more than a point per 100 possessions better than any offence the league has ever seen.
Any mention of this team has to start in one place: Luka Doncic.
The 20-year-old superstar is having what is quite possibly the best offensive season ever by a player his age. His 28.8 points, 9.7 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game are staggering and he is on pace to become just the third player ever to record that stat line.
Doncic is an incredible offensive force and deserves the lion's share of the credit for this offensive revival. His name will always be most closely linked to this offence much like Curry, Durant, Magic and Jordan's are to theirs, respectively but the Maverick offence has transcended into that historic tier because of the incredible depth and balance to this roster.
While the offence clearly runs through Doncic, it's designed to function even on the rare nights he struggles. In the four games he missed with injury back in December, Dallas maintained an offensive rating of 110.4, which would be the 12th-best offence in the league over the whole season.
Eight different Mavs have scored 20 points in a game this season. Ten are averaging at least seven points per game. Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis make headlines but Dallas has built success with players like Seth Curry, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dwight Powell all having nights in the offensive spotlight.
Everything about this offence is balanced.
While Dallas doesn't lead the league in any team offensive category outside of ORtg, they are in the top-five in almost everything. The only area where they lag behind is in two-point shot frequency which, given that they are fourth in two-point field goal percentage, is a sign of incredible floor-spacing.
The reason they take so few 2s is that they are a historically high volume 3-point shooting team. Their 40.8 attempted threes per game would be the highest total in NBA history if not for the last three Houston Rocket seasons. Eight Mavs are averaging at least one made three per game and, among those who aren't, Delon Wright is a 38.5 percent 3-point shooter and Dwight Powell is among the league leaders in two-point efficiency.
Because of the 3-point shooting, Dallas is sometimes seen as an evolution of the Houston offences built around James Harden - the stylistic similarities between Harden and Doncic help the comparison as well.
The two offences have clear similarities but follow very different tenets. Dallas takes the league's second-fewest shots at the rim and 19th-most from mid-range. While they're clearly a 3- point-focused team, they have so much scoring depth - and variety in types of scorers - that they maintain historically elite efficiency while taking shots the Rockets helped the league see as inefficient.
If the team does have one philosophical opposition, though, it is to post-ups. Porzingis has had a solid comeback season but Rick Carlisle has justifiably shot down the notion that he should get the 7-foot-3 sharpshooter more post touches.
Porzingis is in the 7th percentile among all players on points per post-up possession at just 0.57 ppp. Dallas' overall offence translates to more than double that per possession (1.16 ppp) and is the 99.9th percentile of offence in the history of NBA basketball.
Spacing is their greatest strength. Porzingis has the gravity to pull opposing big men away from the rim and his shooting ability creates space on the floor for every other Maverick. Sacrificing that spacing just to feed him in the post is the quickest way to stop an offence that opposing defences have yet to even slow down.
With all that said, even with the incredible season they've had, there are some concerns to keep an eye on with this offence.
Dallas has failed to reach 100 points just twice this season. One of those games came against the Lakers, the other against the Clippers. Those two teams have by far the best counter to what the Mavericks do on offence: multiple athletic, defensive-minded wings and forwards.
Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Anthony Davis, Danny Green and LeBron James have been on an All-Defense team a combined 19 times. Replicating their talent and defensive intuition is all but impossible for most teams but, if there's a path to stopping the Maverick offence, the two LA teams have the closest thing to a blueprint.
The other concern is more generally applicable to the success of this team. Dallas has a legendary offence in the aggregate, but in clutch situations, their offensive rating has plummeted to 90.3, the second-lowest in the league.
Even this far into the season, 80 minutes of clutch basketball isn't a massive sample size, but it is clear that defences have had real sustained success keying in on Doncic in the final minutes and making other Mavericks beat them. Doncic is usually making the correct read in these situations, Dallas is just missing shots.
These clutch struggles are the closest thing to growing pains in Doncic's otherwise extraordinary season, but learning how to end games as masterfully as he plays the other 40+ minutes is how he elevates from the All-NBA player he is today to the MVP candidate he's sure to be for the next decade.
Even with those concerns, you're picking nits to find fault in Dallas' season. To be this utterly dominant while being led by two players with roughly five healthy NBA seasons between them is nothing short of remarkable.
Whether they can hold onto the top-rated offence of all time will be a fun plotline to watch, but one incidental to both their ultimate and immediate goals. Dallas has found another generational superstar, but the juggernaut they've built around him has made them an offensive force the league will have to reckon with for years to come.
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