NBA

'Anybody can score on us' – Luka Doncic points to porous defense as Dallas' downfall

By Sports Desk April 04, 2023

Luka Doncic accepted responsibility for a Dallas Mavericks defense this season that their Slovenian star believes "anybody can score on".

There was plenty of positivity coming into the season after a surprise run to the Western Conference Finals in 2022, but things have failed to go according to plan.

But while the Mavericks sit 11th in the West with a 37-42 record – one game behind the 38-41 Oklahoma City Thunder in the race for the final play-in tournament spot – they still own the sixth-best offense in the league this season.

Scoring at a rate of 116.0 points per 100 possessions, the Mavericks trail only the New York Knicks (116.8), Denver Nuggets (117.1), Philadelphia 76ers (117.1), Boston Celtics (117.3) and Sacramento Kings (119.0) for the league's best offensive units.

But they also sit 23rd in defense, giving up 115.9 points per 100 possessions, although their stellar offensive play had been enough to keep their head above water prior to the All-Star break.

Since the break – and the trade for Kyrie Irving, where they sent away key rotation pieces Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie – the Mavs have gone 6-13, and while their offense has actually gotten even more efficient (117.5 points per 100 possessions), their defense has cratered even further (118.0).

Doncic called it "a very disappointing season", and pointed to the current group's lack of chemistry – particularly on the defensive end – as one of the main reasons for their late-season collapse.

"I think you don't see that chemistry we had before – I mean, especially last year," he said. "I think that chemistry was at the top, everybody. But chemistry builds not just not right away. It's a long process.

"I don't think the offense is a problem, and I always said this. It's our defensive end. I think anybody can score on us. Whoever it is, anybody can score on us."

But the former Rookie of the Year and three-time All-NBA First Team selection was not looking to point fingers. Doncic highlighted his own packed schedule over the past three years as he spent his offseasons playing for Slovenia internationally, and admitted his defense has reflected his level of fatigue.

"I've been playing basketball for three straight years," he said. "Four weeks in between it was free. 

"Sometimes it's really hard for me to play really hard on both ends. But obviously, the defensive end I gotta be way better. But that's not an excuse.

"I'm still young, age-wise, but it's a lot of basketball. But I've got to be way better. I'm the leader of this team – the one to blame is me."

Related items

  • Report: Malik Monk returns to Kings on four-year contract Report: Malik Monk returns to Kings on four-year contract

    The Sacramento Kings will retain a key piece into the foreseeable future as they look to build upon two straight trips to the NBA's play-in tournament.

    Deft scoring guard Malik Monk agreed to remain with the Kings on a four-year, $78million contract, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Thursday night.

    The last year of the deal reportedly carries a player option.

    Monk set career highs last season by averaging 15.4 points and 5.1 assists while finishing second in Sixth Man of the Year award voting.

    Monk, a seven-year veteran out of Kentucky, was due to be an unrestricted free agent on June 30.

    Monk had been linked to several teams searching for an infusion of perimeter scoring in free agency, including the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic, but those clubs will now need to look elsewhere.

    Monk has averaged 11.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 458 career NBA games.

    While the Kings have yet to win a play-off series since 2004, Sacramento have strung together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2004-06. In 2023, the club ended a 16-year post-season drought and forced the defending champion Golden State Warriors to a Game 7 in their first-round play-off series loss.

  • Report: Malik Monk returns to Kings on 4-year contract Report: Malik Monk returns to Kings on 4-year contract

    The Sacramento Kings will retain a key piece into the foreseeable future as they look to build upon two straight trips to the NBA’s play-in tournament.

    Deft scoring guard Malik Monk agreed to remain with the Kings on a four-year, $78million contract, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Thursday night.

    The last year of the deal reportedly carries a player option.

    Monk set career highs last season by averaging 15.4 points and 5.1 assists while finishing second in Sixth Man of the Year award voting.

    Monk, a seven-year veteran out of Kentucky, was due to be an unrestricted free agent on June 30.

    Monk had been linked to several teams searching for an infusion of perimeter scoring in free agency, including the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic, but those clubs will now need to look elsewhere.

    Monk has averaged 11.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 458 career NBA games.

    While the Kings have yet to win a play-off series since 2004, Sacramento have strung together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2004-06. In 2023, the club ended a 16-year post-season drought and forced the defending champion Golden State Warriors to a Game 7 in their first-round play-off series loss.

  • Thunder reportedly acquiring Caruso from Bulls for Giddey Thunder reportedly acquiring Caruso from Bulls for Giddey

    Oklahoma City and Chicago have swapped guards, with the Thunder acquiring Alex Caruso from the Bulls in exchange for Josh Giddey on Thursday.

    ESPN was the first to report the trade, which cannot become official until July 6.

    The 30-year-old Caruso is considered one of the NBA's top defenders, having been named to a pair of All-Defensive teams.

    He is also viewed as an important role player for a potential championship contender after helping the Los Angeles Lakers win the 2019-20 title.

    The Thunder finished with the Western Conference's best record this past season, but were knocked out of the play-offs in the semi-final round by the Dallas Mavericks.

     

    A seven-year NBA veteran, Caruso averaged career highs of 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds this past season, along with 3.5 assists and 1.69 steals while starting 57 of 71 games.

    Giddey, the sixth overall pick of the 2021 draft, started 80 games for the Thunder this past season, but saw his numbers drop from 2022-23.

    After averaging 16.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists in his second season, the 21-year-old Giddey averaged 12.3 points, 6.4 boards and 4.8 assists in 2023-24. He is a career 46.4 per cent shooter from 3-point range.

    He was investigated for having an improper relationship with an underage girl, but the NBA and police were "unable to corroborate any criminal activity."

    The NBA dropped its investigation.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.