Head coach Jason Kidd had occasion to joke around in the aftermath of All-Star Luka Doncic’s latest 40-point triple-double, and not simple because it contributed heavily to the Mavericks’ victory over the always-dangerous Warriors. Including yesterday’s 40-12-12 line, the top dog for the blue and white has been responsible for such a milestone thrice this season — three times more than the rest of the National Basketball Association combined. “It’s getting boring,” the bench tactician said. “I mean, let’s see something different. Maybe [he can] do it with his left hand.”
Levity aside, the Mavericks need Doncic to be all but superhuman in every outing. For all his exertions, they’re hard-pressed to play .500 ball, as clear a reflection as any of their uneven roster. At risk of being reductive, critics have cause to argue that those around him cannot produce any buckets on the dribble. Which, in a nutshell, is why he’s sporting ridiculous usage rates, and why he needs to keep working just to produce, or set up, a bucket. Given that only a fourth of the 2022-23 campaign is done, he’s at an unsustainable pace.
To lessen the wear and tear on Doncic’s body, and to bridge the humongous gap in the Mavericks’ offensive rating when he’s burning rubber and when he sits, the brain trust brought in point guard Kemba Walker. When the new acquisition can consistently contribute remains to be seen. In any case, the fact that an oft-injured, hitherto-unsigned veteran is slated to be relied on speaks volumes of the state the supposed contenders are in. The presence of the Most Valuable Player candidate will keep them in the hunt for triumphs, but the cost may be too much as the playoffs draw near.
Truth to tell, the Mavericks have fundamental problems not even Walker’s addition can correct off the bat. He also happens to be a net negative on defense, which means they will be giving up on one end what they stand to gain on the other. Still, they have to do something — anything — in the face of their recent swoon. Else, they will be engaging in insanity by doing the same thing over and over again, and yet expecting a different result.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.