This article was compiled from: The Athletic
Written by Tim Cato
原标题：Mavericks’ disaster season is the fault of problems that were always there
The Lone Ranger is losing again! After a road loss to the Miami Heat, the Mavericks went to 37-41, finishing eleventh in the West after a two-game losing streak.
Doncic finished with 42 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists, Doncic has suffered two consecutive losses with 40+ points, and Irving has 23 points, 3 rebounds and 8 assists.
Here's an interesting statistic: Teams that shoot 61% or more from the field are 24-2 this season, and coincidentally, Irving is present in both games they lost!
1. The team's disastrous performance, Cuban considered the hem rotten?
For the Dallas Mavericks, there is no other word to describe this season, and their performance is getting worse and worse, even worse than the worst scenario imaginable.
On Sunday, the Lone Rangers lost 104-110 to the Charlotte Hornets, the second time in a row the Lone Rangers lost to the league's fourth-to-bottom team, which had led by less than two minutes in their previous 96 games. The 36-39 Mavericks this season are 11th in the West, a full game short of qualifying for the playoffs.
After last season's divisional finals, and a mid-season Irving trade, this season should have been more successful than it is now. And the team keeps setting new limits — "The Dallas Mavericks have been dismal in recent weeks," I wrote three weeks ago when they lost to the New Orleans Pelicans, which seemed like the lowest point for the team at the time — it's almost unbelievable. This has caused some more realistic heated discussions on the Internet: discussing whether the team should simply start messing with DNP stars and try to retain this season's draft pick, which belongs to the New York Knicks, with the top ten picks to protect.
After today, the Mavericks are one win behind the Thunder, who are tenth in the West, and 2.5 games behind the eighth-placed Pelicans.
2. Irving's arrival has completely changed this team
This has even left fans wondering if there are more hidden secrets behind the scenes.
After Doncic's loss to the Hornets on Friday, he acknowledged that his struggles extended off the court, but he was reluctant to reveal those secrets, and while it's clear that something is wrong with him, the team's problems may not be explained by this simple secret. While there has been so much chaos this season, the brutal truth about this team is that these issues haven't been kept out all the time. They existed before the current poor performance appeared. Most of the problems that the Lone Rangers have had this season are expected to be.
This team is no longer like last season's Lone Ranger. Of the 10 players who played the most minutes after Irving was traded, only four played significant roles in last year's playoffs. The reasons for the Mavericks' success last season seemed subtle, when the team also acknowledged the need to improve its roster heading into the offseason.
3. It turns out: Irving< Brunson + Dinwiddie
But on the contrary, they lost the second best player in the team.
The Lone Ranger's stinking operation will go down in history forever — a failed contract extension with Brunson in the offseason, but his departure wasn't the real reason to hurt the team. "It cannot be simply assumed that Brunson's departure will inevitably lead to poor performance for the Lone Ranger. But if you want to succeed, he's indispensable," I wrote before the start of the season. Brunson has been better off with the Knicks this season than many thought, arguably with the same on-court influence as Irving — though if he had stayed in Dallas, his performance wouldn't necessarily have taken the leap he has now. But to build a successful team, losing a talented player is not a good thing, and this has been known from the moment he left.
The team has abandoned not just Brunson but the success of last season, stemming from a three-point flowering guard offense who short-sightedly believes Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie can keep the team together, even though they often play separately. Then again, I had reasonable doubts about this line-up at the beginning of the season. "If Dallas doesn't win 48.5, it's first of all because Dinwiddie is no longer the same player he was when he was paired with another guard," I wrote in October. He really wasn't. Before trading for Irving, Doncic's Dallas Mavericks offense was the best in the league, and the team's scoring was the worst when Dinwiddie was alone. That means the vast majority of games Doncic played close to 40 minutes, while the Mavericks went 8-0 in games without Doncic — before Irving was traded.
4. Last season's defensive system collapsed
If Dinwiddie had been replaced by Irving before the start of the season, things might have looked different. Available in a mid-season swap, Doncic was exhausted by the weight he had put on for the team, while also losing the team's best outside guard, Dorian Finney Smith. Last season, the Lone Ranger's rejuvenated defense was a synergistic organic whole, rotated very well, and achieved amazing success in the regular season, conceding the seventh fewest points per 100 rounds in the league. The overall rotation completely masks the weaknesses of these players who do not have elite defensive talent. But many of those players have left, and the former top 10 players have been replaced by ten players who don't.
Again, it seems reasonable: "If the team doesn't put more emphasis on defensive responsibility, it certainly won't replicate last season's success."
5. The rotation of the lineup is embarrassing, and the team is difficult to return
The team's priority signing of Javill McGee in the summer was supposed to provide the frame the team lacked last year. From his mid-range contract in July and appointment as a starting centre-forward, to his team's exit from the rotation in November. Although it is surprising that McGee proved useless so quickly. But the decision to buy McKee, then 34, was a questionable move, even if it happened. McGee's standing block style is clearly at odds with the running, sweeping, and rotation-based defensive system that Dallas' coaching staff successfully used last season, and this year's defense is much less effective. Like I said from the beginning of pre-season: "There's no guarantee that he will fit seamlessly into the Lone Ranger's defensive system."
Dallas also had three high-level outside defenders last season, which helped hide their weaknesses. Finney Smith is not here anymore. Reggie Bullock, 32, is not as efficient either. Maxi Kléber, 31, missed 34 games after knee surgery in the middle of the season. Josh Green has gone one step further from being a bench in the playoffs last season to this year, but the 22-year-old's recent struggle to find his niche while playing alongside Doncic and Irving is a reminder that progress doesn't rise linearly. For the Irving trade to work this season, Green needs to accelerate his growth and even surpass the substantial growth he's already made this year. This is needed due to the lack of the squad, not that he is not growing fast enough.
The same is true for the rest of Dallas. Dwight Powell has started almost every game this season, although the team signed his successor this past summer (don't forget he was healthy in three of his first four games this season). Jaden Hardy is a rookie defender who shouldn't even play important games this season. Since joining Dallas, Justin Holloday has averaged 17 minutes per game, and he was able to sign because he couldn't make it to the Atlanta Hawks' rotation.
And Christian Wood. Here's one possible scenario I envisioned in October: "He scored on the other end and kept dropping points, which was enough for Dallas coach Kidd to use Wood for no more than 25 minutes a night." The Lone Ranger found out why they could get him with just one first-round final pick and some junk contracts. "Whether you approve of Wood's performance this season or not, that's where he is. Wood wasn't the first big man to score first, and Kidd was never able to use him effectively. When Kidd was reportedly fired by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018, he didn't have a good relationship with Jabari Parker.
6. One Doncic is not enough to help Kidd cover up all kinds of problems
Kidd's tenure with the Bucks and Lone Rangers has growing similarities. In 2014, Kidd took over Milwaukee, revolutionizing their defense in his first season, and eventually their defense ranked second in the league. But over the next three seasons, the defensive rankings dropped to 22, 19 and 25 when he was fired. "You can write that we're a super team, you can write about how great we are," he said of the Bucks shortly before he was fired in 2018, "but we're a young team and we're learning how to play at a higher level, and people's expectations are a little too high." That quote can be copied and pasted from any Lone Ranger's press conference this season.
Perhaps Doncic's excellent play this season was enough to mask the team's flaws, but these problems existed long before Dallas reached its lowest point of the season, rather than waiting to be discovered. Perhaps there are more layers of problems in this season's catastrophic turn that have yet to be revealed, but the current visible problems are enough to explain these disasters.
These problems have always been here and have never been solved.