The Dallas Mavericks have had ten starting lineups in 18 games. Once they settle on a starting five, how good will they be?
The Dallas Mavericks have a 12-6 record to start the season. What makes this number impressive is that the Mavericks have had ten different lineups in this time. Only second-year sensation and MVP candidate Luka Doncic has started in every game so far.
The Mavericks have had eight games where the starting lineup has been used once. They have a 5-3 record in these games, averaging 117.1 points in these contests and allowing their opponents 111.8 points per game. This is a positive net rating of 5.3 points.
However, no team can sustain success in this league if they are not able to settle on their starting lineup. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was quoted in a Brad Townsend article which ran in The Dallas Morning News saying that he is looking at these lineups with the view of being flexible.
Carlisle has used two lineups more than once this season. He has used Luka Doncic, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Kristaps Porzingis and Dwight Powell four times. The other lineup used more than once is similar to this. Carlisle replaced Curry with Tim Hardaway Jr. and has used this lineup five times.
Looking at the Curry lineup first, the Mavericks had a 3-1 record. This is good but not as good as you might think. They have averaged 110.8 points while giving up 110.3 points per contest. This is only a net differential of 0.5 points per game.
This is a little to close for comfort. The Mavericks were still winning, but a single bounce of the ball could impact the result. The Western Conference is just too competitive for the game to be left to chance, so to speak. The Mavericks are looking towards the playoffs, and with the starting lineup they have had over the past five games, this is a distinct possibility.
With Hardaway jr in the lineup, the Mavericks have been a force to be reckoned with. They have a 4-1 record since he has become a starter. Offensively the Mavericks have clicked with 128.2 points per game.
While this is impressive, this lineup has held its opponents to 109 points per game. This is a differential of 19.2 points over the five games. This is also the best defensive performance of the three defined groups.
It might be easy to suggest that the schedule for the most successful starting five was soft. Admittedly they did play the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. However, during this time they played three teams who would make playoffs if the season ended today.
These teams are the Houston Rockets, the LA Clippers and the Phoenix Suns. Not only are these three playoff teams, but they are also Western Conference playoff teams so this is incredibly important for potential seeding. The only loss was against the Clippers, who were able to keep Doncic quiet.
With December starting, it is pretty safe to say that the Dallas Mavericks have settled on a starting lineup and they are going to be a handful to play against moving forward in their pursuit of the postseason.