‘We got to do something’: This is the most disturbing part of the Mavericks’ 3-8 start to the season

It’s both the good news and the bad news that in a game like Wednesday’s blowout loss at Utah, the Mavericks’ two best players were rookies Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson.

Good for the future. Bad for the moment and Maverick fans who expect better from this year’s group.

Coaches like to say that players need to buy into whatever system is being installed.

If that’s the case, the Mavericks haven’t even started a rent-to-own plan yet.

“We got to do something,” J.J. Barea said. “It’s a tough beginning. We still got a lot of games left. But we better get to work. How do we fix it? We don’t know right now.”

That’s the scary part.

The Mavericks are 3-8, and this is a franchise that got off to a 2-13 start last season and 2-14 the season before that. The commentary from players is not helping. Everybody can see that the parts are ill-fitting at the moment.

Nobody’s quite sure how to make them mesh. But nobody wants to bring up the possibility that there may be too many square pegs to fit into round holes. And it’s clear that a lot of players are trying to do things individually on the floor rather than collectively as a unit. How else to explain the fact that the Mavericks are 28th in the NBA in turnovers at 17.6 per game — including 90 (yes, 90) in the last four games.

The passes call for a zig, but teammates think it’s a zag.

“We’re still trying to figure out how to play alongside one another,” Harrison Barnes said. “I don’t think it’s any ill-intended turnovers. I think it’s a lot of us trying to do the right thing. It’s just not in sync. We haven’t got it where we’re just clicking yet. That’s the most frustrating point. We’re just not in sync, and it’s showing up right now.”

Coach Rick Carlisle deserves some of the blame, for sure. But not all of it. Players play. Coaches try to motivate and put players in situations where they have the best chance of success.

“With that many turnovers, it’s difficult to win a game,” Doncic said. “It was a tough back-to-back, but we didn’t have our mentality right and the turnovers killed us. We got to stick together and get our mentality right.”

Said Carlisle: “It’s a big problem. And we got to get it solved. You give up 31 points on 25 turnovers on the road in the Western Conference, you’re going to have a rough night.”

Times like this call for a little Dirk Nowitzki perspective. One of his favorite lines is that during a long NBA season, you go through stretches where you think you’ll never win again.

Similarly, there are segments where you feel unbeatable.

Maybe there’s one of those out there for the Mavericks.

But everybody is growing tired of the wait.

This isn’t supposed to happen when a team has played 11 opponents and only two of them have a winning record.

But it does happen when the competitive level consistently does not reach that of their opponents.

It happens when players aren’t sold on things, or at the very least have doubts that what they are doing will work.

It happens when an offensive system has been changed to play faster and move the ball more, yet there are too many players who can’t hang on to said ball or pass it to somebody in the same color jersey.

“It’s pretty far,” Barea said when asked where the team was in terms of figuring things out. “It’s rough right now, it’s frustrating. We don’t really know what we got to do to get out of this funk. And now we got turnovers, too. We never had a lot of turnovers, and now we got turnovers.

“It’s not good. There’s a lot of things going on.”

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