You can take it to the bank that these Mavericks hitting the road with a 5-4 record look nothing like what they expect their finished product to be.

They are learning fast, though, that some aspects of this early season science project are things they hope to keep throughout the season.

O.J. Mayo is Exhibit A.

Going into Thursday's NBA schedule, Mayo was seventh in the league in scoring at 21.8 points per game. The players above him? Carmelo Anthony, James Harden, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Heady company, for sure. And while the Mavericks' coaches harp on defense and rebounding, the name of the game remains basketball. As in basket. You want to keep the other team from putting the ball in the basket, and your chances of winning go up if you have guys who can score.

So far, Mayo can score.

If you want perspective, remember that last season Dirk Nowitzki averaged two-tenths of a point less than what Mayo is doing now.

So if you had concerns about whether Mayo could be Nowitzki's sidekick — and many people did — the 6-4 shooting guard has done his part to allay those fears.

"One of the things I admire about O.J. is he wanted to be here, and he wanted the responsibility of being a starter," Rick Carlisle said Thursday. "And his commitment to getting better has not wavered. He takes coaching very positively."

Mayo's career stalled a bit the last two years in Memphis when he saw Zach Randolph become the focal point of the offense. Mayo's role became as a sixth man, instant-offense kind of guy.

Nothing wrong with that. But it's not what he wanted. And while he's happy to be the lead horse offensively for the Mavericks until Nowitzki returns, he's also keenly aware of what NBA coaches and general managers look at when they evaluate players.

They want to see a well-rounded player. Not just a gunner.