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One of the biggest moves made at the 2023 NBA trade deadline was the deal in which the Dallas Mavericks acquired polarizing All-Star guard Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets. Dallas traded away Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, an unprotected 2029 first-round pick and two second-round picks to land the flashy point guard. It was done in an effort to surround franchise cornerstone Luka Doncic with more offensive firepower, as the Mavs front office try to quiet the often-said refrain of "get Luka more help." 

Irving certainly fits the bill of someone who can shoulder some of the offensive responsibility alongside Doncic, but the ruling is still out on the ceiling of this dynamic duo. With Irving set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, the Mavericks also run the risk of losing him for nothing, a big gamble to take on a player whose off-court baggage often overshadows his basketball brilliance.

With one month of this trial run in the books, let's break down some observations from this new-look Mavericks team that has gone just 5-7 since Irving's arrival. 

Irving-Doncic offensive duo has been statistically great

The Mavericks' offense has done exactly what you would expect from a team featuring Doncic and Irving: score a lot of points. Since trading for Irving, the Mavericks have had the fifth-best offense in the league, with a 120.0 offensive rating. Bringing in Irving was meant to alleviate some of the offensive workload for Doncic when the two shared the floor, and give the Mavericks someone who could captain the ship when the Slovenian guard sat on the bench. By those two accounts, it's worked great for Dallas, and you can point to the game where Doncic and Irving both put up 40+ points in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers as evidence. The pair became the first Mavericks duo to each score at least 40 points in a game in franchise history, and it was the most extreme version of what this tandem can do on the floor together.

The other piece of the puzzle that has come together quite nicely is the minutes Irving plays when Doncic is sitting. This has been an area where the Mavericks have struggled since Doncic entered the league, and this season has been the worst in that regard. When Doncic sits, the Mavericks score 8.1 fewer points than when he's on the court, not surprising given how vital he is to everything this team does on offense. Still, Irving's presence is an upgrade over Spencer Dinwiddie who shouldered that same responsibility before being traded to Brooklyn.

LineupOffensive RatingDefensive RatingNet Rating

Kyrie + Luka




Kyrie, no Luka




Luka, no Kyrie




It's a small sample size, just 11 games and only nine games where both Irving and Doncic have played. But the Mavericks haven't had a great deal of difficulty putting up points when those two share the floor. That 124.2 offensive rating would rank first in the NBA this season by far, but unfortunately for the Mavericks, offense isn't the only part of the game.

The defense has been predictably bad

When you trade your best perimeter defender without immediately addressing the giant hole on that end of the floor, chances are your defense isn't going to get better. But Dallas seems to be betting on outscoring their opponents on most nights without worrying about the defense, which, hasn't given them great results since the Irving trade. Yes, the Mavericks are scoring a bunch of points, but they're also surrendering a ton, too. It's resulted in just a 5-7 record, and with no one waiting in the wings to immediately upgrade the defense for the rest of the season, it will likely stay this way, once again proving the age-old adage: defense wins championships.

Dallas allows opponents to shoot 51.5% from the field, a league-worst since the Irving trade. While they weren't exactly locking anyone down on that end of the floor prior to the deal, allowing 48% from the field in the pre-Irving era, it's never a good sign when you make a franchise-altering trade and get worse, by a significant margin, on one end of the floor. 

The craziest aspect about this suddenly new identity to just try and outscore teams is after nearly a full season of criticizing the players for their lack of defensive effort, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd has appeared to completely surrender to his team's inability to stop anyone. When asked if he was concerned about the team's defense, Kidd responded like someone who was just recently brainwashed to align with the team's new game plan.

"No," Kidd said. "We're here to outscore people. People come to see the points, not 80-80. We're here to score. This is the new NBA. Interior defense, we'll figure it out."

While there may be a hint of sarcasm in Kidd's response, the Mavericks have certainly built their roster to score points and worry about defense later. However, defense has been a problem for the Mavericks all season long, and trading away Dorian Finney-Smith only exacerbated that issue. Dallas allows the third-most points in the paint (58.5) since the trade, and they're the second-worst rebounding team in the league during that span, losing the battle on the boards by a 6.2 margin.

Without Finney-Smith to mask the weaknesses of Dallas' most vulnerable perimeter defenders, like Doncic, the Mavericks are getting exploited on that end of the floor every night. The return of Maxi Kleber was supposed to ignite the team's defense, and while Kleber has helped some in that regard, he's not the antidote for all of Dallas' defensive woes. 

Struggling to pull out wins down the stretch

There are a lot of factors at play here that have made Dallas one of the worst clutch teams since the Irving trade. It's partially a direct result of poor defense, but also could be chalked up to some natural growing pains as Doncic and Irving feel each other out. Since the deal, Dallas has played the second-most clutch games in the league and has a 3-6 record to show for it. In some instances, the Mavericks have struggled to get quality looks down the stretch, and on one occasion, failed to even get off a shot attempt in what could've tied the game in the closing seconds to send it to overtime in a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. In that case, credit should be given to the Wolves for playing such stout defense in a high-pressure situation, forcing Doncic and Irving to play hot potato with the ball. 

On another occasion, Doncic forced up a stepback 3-pointer against the Kings, despite Irving managing to create some space between his defender which would've given him a better look:

That was the pair's first game together, and after the loss, Doncic acknowledged he should've given the ball back to Irving to get the shot off. 

A similar scenario happened against the Pacers, in which Irving attempted a stepback 3-pointer in isolation, despite the Mavericks only being down by two points.

Irving had a clean look, but when you have two All-Star talents in Irving and Doncic, there's certainly a better option, especially when you don't need to go for the jugular with a 3-pointer. 

But perhaps the most egregious loss in this span was against the Lakers, in which the Mavericks blew a 27-point lead at home. Anthony Davis completely wrecked Dallas' interior defense, allowing him to grab several offensive rebounds which resulted in second-chance opportunities. It put a magnifying glass on all of the Mavericks' weaknesses on the defensive end and exploited the newness of the Irving-Doncic pairing which hasn't quite found a consistent footing yet.

While Irving provides Doncic with the most talented teammate he's ever had on offense, it's obvious there are glaring issues that Dallas will have to deal with for the remainder of the season. As Irving and Doncic get more comfortable playing together you would hope the Mavericks could fix some of these issues. If not, then they'll be headed for a quick postseason exit with some significant looming questions facing them in the offseason.