In two road losses, the Dallas Mavericks (6-5) have looked every bit as slow, awkwardly constructed, and talent diminished as ever.
Yet, more than anything else, Dallas’ star, Luka Doncic, has looked human.
Against the Orlando Magic, in a 94-87 loss, Doncic’s 30-point scoring streak snapped. He scored 24 points on a lackluster 9-for-24 from the field (2-for-11 from three-point range). And then, Doncic followed up that performance by scoring 22 points on 8-for-21 shooting in a 113-105 loss to the Washington Wizards, where everyone on Dallas’ roster looked dead on arrival as soon as the second half hit.
The back-to-back losses are forcing head coach Jason Kidd to look at his lineups and team, and what he sees — or doesn’t see in regards to help for Doncic — is apparently worrying.
“People will say he’s only 23, but he’s human,” Kidd said on Thursday. He added that by Christmas, Doncic may be hitting a mental and physical wall.
Anyone who watches the Mavericks regularly could have told Kidd that.
Dallas is running Luka Doncic into the ground
Doncic is leading the league in usage percentage at 39.1. He is also leading the league in total field goals attempted (260), field goals made (127), and points per game (33.6). Doncic is tasked with carrying the weight of Dallas’ offense on his shoulders every night. And on nights when he doesn’t have the legs, he has no second star he can really trust to do the heavy lifting.
Simply put, Dallas’ non-Doncic minutes have to be dominated by someone because currently, it appears like he doesn’t have enough help.
“It’s not Luka, it’s the team,” Kidd said. “We’re just not playing well right now.”
Doncic, keenly aware that Dallas’ success begins and ends with him, admits that he has to play better. After Thursday’s loss, he said, “I’ve been awful for two games now, those two games are on me. We got to figure it out. [These were] two games we are supposed to win.”
Though true, Doncic shouldn’t have to be superhuman for Dallas to beat Washington and Orlando. 20-some points should be enough. But, with the way the team is currently built — and the way Kidd currently distributes rotational minutes — Dallas is asking for Doncic to make the impossible possible every night.
In an 82-game season, that style of basketball is simply not sustainable. Both Kidd and Doncic appear aware of that. But unless Dallas makes a move, help seems further off than ever before.
“You can’t just have two people score,” Kidd said. “It’s a team game… we’ve struggled to score or stop anybody. These are the things we got to address. It’s game 11, we can get better.”
With Portland coming to town on Saturday, Dallas needs to get better — and quick.
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Feature image via Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports