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Mavs Stat of the Week: Brunson ‘Assisting’ Dallas Like Never Before

As the Dallas Mavericks progress through the 2021-22 season, DallasBasketball.com picks a weekly stat that tells the story of how the team is performing.

Since his rookie season, the Dallas Mavericks' offense started and ended with Luka Doncic. Despite Doncic's elite-level offense and playoff heroics, the Mavs’ offense has needed another playmaker for the past two seasons. 

Thanks to growth of Jalen Brunson, who has become a full-time starter for head coach Jason Kidd, the Mavs now have that true second creator.

Brunson’s vision on the court is a night-and-day difference from what he’d shown us through his first three seasons with the Mavs. This week's ‘Mavs Stat of the Week’ illustrates how important this development has been for Dallas this season.

Points Generated by Assists: 611

Last offseason saw the Mavericks' front office publicly admit needing another player to alleviate the massive burden bestowed on Doncic. Unfortunately, the Mavs failed to make a splash in free agency, but luckily for them, Brunson has filled that need nicely.

Coming off a shaky playoff campaign against the Los Angeles Clippers, it's understandable why people doubted Brunson as a crucial part of the offense. However, 2021 was his first his first taste of the NBA playoffs, as he wasn’t able to play in the ‘Orlando Bubble’ due to a shoulder injury.

The Mavs have been able to navigate through tough times this season and find themselves as the current fifth-seed in the Western Conference, thanks in large part to Brunson becoming the team’s second-best player.

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Although Brunson should be credited for the hard work he’s put in, some credit should be given to Kidd as well for officially making the move to start him full-time. Not only did that move help the Mavs on the court, but it could increase the chances of Dallas retaining Brunson is free agency this summer.

Brunson's emergence as a starting guard leads to more opportunities for him to find the right teammate. One stat tells the story more than most: points generated by assists.

Elite players such as Chris Paul and James Harden lead this particular statistical category. Landing 11th on the list, Brunson directly trails 2021 NBA MVP Nikola Jokic with 611 points generated by assists. For further context, Doncic has 608 on the year.

In a contract year filled with financial implications, Brunson has put himself in the conversation with some of the league’s best playmakers. This version of Brunson should help the Mavs more in the postseason than what happened last year.

Producing a career-high in assists percentage (30.5), Brunson is clearly the second-best creator on the Mavericks. Although Doncic is the engine that makes everything work, Brunson isn’t necessarily dependent on him, as only six of his assists are connected to Doncic this season. 

Brunson's vastly improved play-making provides another much-needed wrinkle to the Mavs' imperfect-but-improving offense. While the 25-year-old guard probably won't earn All-Star status in an elite guard-filled Western Conference, he is still a major All-Star for his own team now.

Perhaps Brunson's coming-of-age this season foreshadows a triumphant postseason campaign to come.