Luka Doncic’s most needed helper has finally arrived! Could Kemba Walker be the Mavericks’ answer at third guard?

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The Mavericks, who made it to the Western Conference championship game last season, started the new season quite bumpy. Although the top star Luka Doncic handed in MVP-level statistics, the Mavericks currently only have a 50% winning percentage, barely ranking tenth in the Western Conference. And since the beginning of the season,They have also repeatedly lost to teams such as the Nuggets, Raptors, Wizards, Pelicans, Magic and Pistons without the opponent’s main star.

In order to reverse the decline, the Mavericks uniform team recently signed a one-year non-guaranteed contract to sign veteran Kemba Walker, who was uninterested in the free market during the offseason, to enrich the depth of the backcourt.

Behind Luka Doncic’s ghostly data, the Mavericks’ point guard shortage cannot be ignored

It may be a little euphemistic to describe Doncic’s contribution this season as dedicated. Averaged 33.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game. Not only the NBA scoring leader, but also the Mavericks tops the list of these three statistics. This season, there are only Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets and Pascal Siakam of the Raptors in the league. Champion, which shows that the Mavericks are highly dependent on him.

And it’s only a quarter of the way through the season,This season has created a 40-point three-pointer three times, only behind Oscar Roberson, a three-point maker.but the season is still very long, and it should only be a matter of time before Doncic breaks the record of his predecessors.

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In addition, Doncic’s USG% this season is as high as 37.7%, indicating that nearly 40% of the team’s offensive possessions are ended by him. This data ranks second in the league this season, second only to Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks, and even looking at the NBA historical rankings, Doncic can still be ranked eighth in history.

The outside world mostly blames the fact that Doncic has to cover the sky with one hand because the Mavericks failed to retain the starting point guard Jalen Brunson during the summer vacation. Brunson was poached by the Knicks with a lot of money, which is indeed a big loss for the Mavericks. Especially for the Knicks this season, Brunson averaged 21.0 points and 6.3 assists per game, handing in data that is close to the All-Star level, which highlights how sad it is for the Mavericks to lose him. .

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In the vacancy left by Brunson, Spencer Dinwiddie, who replaced the starter, performed fairly competently, averaging 16.3 points and 5.0 assists per game, both of which are his best results since suffering a torn ACL injury in 2020. The problem is that the organization work was originally divided among the three, but now only Dinwiddie and Doncic are left to undertake it, and the workload of Brunson is almost borne by Doncic.

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Furthermore, the Mavericks, with three point guards, could maintain at least two offensive engines on the court at any time last season. However, after Brunson transferred to the team, the Mavericks had to be led by a single point guard for more than half of the games this season. The goal of the defensive strategy became more obvious, and the ball holder was more likely to be targeted by the opponent. In other words, Doncic not only has a surge in workload this season, but also has to face higher-intensity defensive pressure.

It is not a long-term solution for Doncic to bear the pressure of victory and defeat alone. As mentioned above, his USG% this season ranked eighth in NBA history, and the seven players in front of him,Excluding Giannis Antetokounmpo this season, none of the remaining six players could win the championship, and five of them even had only one round of the playoffs that year.

Such a phenomenon is not difficult to understand. In the playoffs where defense decides the outcome, as the sole core of tactics, it often attracts attention. Doncic will undoubtedly be the number one target of defense.

When he was on the court this season, the team’s offensive efficiency value was 116.4, ranking among the top three in the league. When he was resting, it dropped to 102.9, which was worse than the Hornets (106.0), which was at the bottom of the league. It is conceivable that once Doncic is out of order in the playoffs, let alone copying the performance of reaching the Western Conference Finals last season, the Mavericks should have a hard time even getting past the first round of the playoffs.

To sum up, the Mavericks urgently need to strengthen their point guard capabilities, and the arrival of Walker is like a timely rain.

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How can Kemba Walker help the Mavericks from All-Star to Ronin? Similar to Doncic and Dinwiddie, Walker is also a combo guard with scoring and organizational skills. Last season, Walker averaged 9.4 points for the team through assists. Compared with the Mavericks this season, this data is second only to Doncic and Dinwiddie. Walker averaged 21.0 points per game in points and assists per game last season, ranking among the top three in this season’s Mavericks.

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In addition, Walker gave people the impression of sticking to the ball early in his career, but after the baptism of Celtic, after working with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum in green shirts and double guns, it proved that Walker can also play the role of a good deputy. Moreover, his C&S outside shooting percentage in the past three seasons has been around 40%. Increasing the offensive ratio of running without the ball should not cause any obstacles to adapt.

The biggest benefit of Walker’s arrival to the Mavericks may be to improve the performance of the Mavericks at critical moments, not only because of his more than ten years of combat experience, but more importantly, he can relieve the pressure on Doncic’s shoulders and help him maintain his endurance. Since most of the current team’s offense is dominated by Doncic, it consumes a lot of energy for him.So the closer the game got to the end, the worse his shooting percentage was, shooting 36 percent from the field and 17 percent from three in the fourth quarter.

Doncic’s weakness in the decisive quarter caused the Mavericks to struggle at critical moments. The Mavericks scored an average of only 24.8 points in the fourth quarter this season, tied for the second-worst in the league, and the team shot 43.3% from the bottom and was the seventh-worst.Even in the previous game against the Clippers, when they led by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter, they almost suffered a comeback

Even though Walker is no longer the All-Star guard of the Hornets, and has become a ronin, changing three teams in three years, his ability as a backup guard should be enough to relieve Doncic’s hard work.

Injury worries, Kemba Walker, who has not played for a long time, is the answer to the third guard? Knee injury may be one of the concerns that hinder Walker’s performance. Walker had meniscus surgery in 2015 and 2016, and arthroscopic surgery in 2017. After that, knee problems still plagued him from time to time, regardless of being abandoned by Nick last season, knee injuries caused him to miss 45 regular season games in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

In the interview, Mavericks manager Nico Harrison also mentioned that he needs to pay more attention to his knee condition. Perhaps because of this, the Mavericks did not want to act too hastily. Although the backcourt was stretched, they did not push him to the line of fire immediately after signing. Instead, they assigned him to their G-League team, the Texas Legends, to participate in team training. In view of the fact that Walker has not played for nearly ten months, it should be a safer way to adjust his status step by step.

Walker’s signing was not everyone’s favorite,There are also some comments that we should seize the opportunity to give priority to training rookie Jaden Hardy. Hardy stayed in the G-League Texas Legends almost all this season, averaging 29.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, temporarily ranking as the league’s scoring leader. Although the explosive scoring is amazing, Hardy’s passing vision has yet to be considered, so some people think it is better to take this opportunity to pull Hardy and let him serve as the Mavericks’ backup point guard, and use the game as a substitute for training.

But at present, it seems that the thinking of the Mavericks uniform team is not the case. After all, the team’s goal is to compete for the championship, and there is not much room for rookies to make mistakes. Veteran Walker seems to be able to stabilize the morale of the army.

It’s just that whether Walker’s signing can really achieve the expected benefits remains to be seen. Last season, the Mavericks, who originally had only two point guards, Doncic and Brunson, tried to introduce Knight and Thomas one after another, but the chemical effect between them and the team was not ideal. The Mavericks didn’t finally satisfy the third guard vacancy until they acquired Dinwiddie from the Wizards before the trade deadline. The Mavericks’ three-back combination also played a miraculous effect in the Western Conference semifinals, knocking down the regular season leader Sun.

The answer to whether Walker can become the third guard of the Mavericks will not be revealed until after the actual running-in.

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The tip of the iceberg with a poor record, the Mavericks still have many unresolved problems

Doncic’s fatigue may be just the tip of the iceberg when the Mavericks’ record is not as good as expected. At this stage, the team still has many problems to deal with.

For example, the Mavericks averaged only 9.8 points per game in fast break points, ranking bottom in the league, and the only team whose average fast break points per game did not reach double digits. Offensive-defensive conversion is one of the easiest scoring modes on the court. If it cannot be grasped well, it will be a big loss for the team’s offensive end.

The decline of outside shooting in the main rotation is also a shortcoming that needs to be improved. Doncic’s ability to absorb monsters is indeed very strong, but it is useless for outside shooters to be unable to grasp the gap. The three-point shooting percentages of Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock both dropped by more than 5% from last season, and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s touch has not gradually recovered until recently.

Another point is the issue of center forward scheduling at critical moments. The coaching staff seems to have yet to find an answer as to whether Christian Wood, who is heavy on offense and light on defense, or JaVale McGee or Dwight Powell, who are heavy on offense and light on offense, have yet to be found.

All in all, Walker may be a tonic for Mavericks, but it only relieves part of the pain temporarily. If the pathogen is to be completely eradicated, the lesions must be caught one by one and the right medicine can be prescribed.

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