NBA

How the Mavericks improved their starting XI while keeping their identity

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1. The Mavericks’ offseason has reached stasis for now. After a furious flurry of trade openings, the NBA’s trade period has slowed considerably, with more teams eyeing the trades that inevitably seem to come from Brooklyn. You can count Dallas as one of those teams.

Dallas still has a spot on the roster. The list is light on ball handling and may still be missing the backup wing that Nico Harrison entered in the summer saying he wanted to acquire – when there is a glut of crosses. Even if the Mavericks get involved in Brooklyn’s next trade — or with another team gearing up for those deals — it won’t amount to anything seismic. Dallas isn’t, for example, trading for Kyrie Irving; most of their rotation players are in place for the upcoming season. But another pragmatic deal this summer could better glue this list from top to bottom. That’s the goal, anyway, especially as Luka Dončić has recently indicated that he hopes more moves are to come.

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I will say this: it was not what I expected from this offseason. But I didn’t expect Jalen Brunson to leave either. (And, to be fair, many of the team aren’t either at the end of the season.) A simple path to moderate improvement was removed once that happened, and Dallas is stuck with that path. alternative which is too early for radical assessments. There are still a few small elements of the offseason that I would like to address.

2. Here’s what the depth chart would look like if the Mavericks took the roster, as it’s currently constructed, for next season.

Mavs 22-23 depth chart

PG SG SF PF VS

Doncic

Dinwiddie

Beef

Finney Smith

McGee

Ntilikina

Hardaway

Green

Kleber

Wood

Robust

chaffinch

Bertans

Powell

2F: Dorsey

2F: Wright

Jason Kidd said Spencer Dinwiddie and JaVale McGee would start, joining starters Dončić and Dorian Finney-Smith. I was told the team plans to keep Reggie Bullock as the fifth starter. As it stands, the team’s brightest acquisition this summer, Christian Wood, will come off the bench.

He would be the Mavericks’ closest facsimile of the starting lineup that brought them playoff success: two playing guards, two 3-and-D wings and a tonal center who plays fewer minutes than his off-court counterparts. from the bench. Dinwiddie replaces Brunson and McGee takes over for Dwight Powell, who started 89 of 100 games last season but averaged fewer minutes than Kristaps Porziņģis and Maxi Kleber.

Dinwiddie might be more complementary to Dončić than Brunson was. After being traded to Dallas, Dinwiddie took roughly the same number of catch-and-shoot 3s (2.3) as Brunson (2.6) while making more (42.3% to 40.7) . Where Dončić and Brunson were methodical pilots, Dinwiddie has the ability to make lightning-quick decisions on the weak side of the floor: instant drives, swings, or launches from triple-threat positions. His tendency to turn into long-winded isolation possessions was less prevalent when Dončić was playing with him. That catch-and-shoot percentage might have been a mid-season outlier, but he still averaged 37 percent on such shots in his last three full seasons. It was the pull-up attempts that lowered his overall percentage.

McGee represents an even more certain upgrade. Last season, he had roughly the same number of pick-and-roll possessions as a roller man (2.1) as Powell (2.0), and he averaged 1.40 points on these games, just short of Powell’s 1.42. Although it lacks the relentless drive and technical finishing chops of Powell, it makes up for it with even longer limbs and higher lifts. (He’s also shot 67% from the free-throw line since 2018.) Where McGee offers substantial improvement is his rim deterrence. Among players 6-foot-10 and taller who have defended at least four shots per game from within six feet of the edge — essentially every center in the league — Powell allowed the sixth-worst percentage (63.6%) on such shots. McGee allowed just 51.8%, according to the NBA stats site, who was fifth best among 48 qualified players.

The Mavericks’ starting lineup was good enough for a Western Conference Finals, and they improved on it. The questions are with the rest of the list.

3. Wood coming off the bench somewhat replaces the bench scoring role Dinwiddie served last season, and there’s a lot to like about the trio of him, McGee and Kleber at center. McGee will only keep five, but Kleber and Wood can keep one position. There’s a real argument that Wood might be better off doing this, which I’ll examine more closely in the coming weeks. It should also be noted that Wood and Kleber have both missed 45 games over the past two seasons. If Powell is on the roster to start next season, he’s unlikely to have a major role when the team is fully healthy – which inevitably won’t always be the case.

A random prediction: I could see an early season scenario being the team’s hyper efficiency with Wood as their sole center, despite Kidd leaning into two big lineups whenever he’s not playing the starters. I don’t think there would be anything wrong with that; The wood in the center could become the upcoming season’s version of the three ground clearances together. Wood doesn’t offer rim protection like Kleber or McGee, but his five-spacing and off-the-dribble drive should be delectable next to Dončić. There’s a lot to like about the different variations Dallas could close out games with.

4. Dallas still needs a playmaker holding the bench units together, which currently looks like a staggered Dončić/Dinwiddie minutes plus Frank Ntilikina and Jaden Hardy. I’ve liked what I’ve seen of Hardy in the summer league so far, especially his passing, but it’s optimistic that he’ll play 60+ games at the moment. (I’ll write about him later this week.) I don’t like the idea of ​​Ntilikina being a leader at all. He may have entered the league as such, but his future, for me, is being reshaped as a 3&D winger whose offense is slowly catching up to his defensive prowess.

5. Despite the fact that it was originally stated that McGee received the mid-level taxpayer exception, Dallas is confirmed to have signed him slightly below. His deal will be a three-year deal worth $17.2 million. This allows Dallas to sign Hardy to a three-year deal using the rest of the mid-tier; without using this exception, the team could only have signed him for two seasons. While I still have issues with the length and player option given to McGee, it’s far more justifiable that the team offered them as incentives to maintain enough headroom to keep Hardy under a year over team control.

6. I would have signed Goran Dragić this summer. Hell, I would have brought him to last season’s trade deadline if I could; he would have contributed to the playoffs. But there’s no denying that the 36-year-old Slovenian isn’t nearly the player he was several seasons ago, and the team seem to have assessed that not only has he become an extreme liability on the defensive side, but also that his 12-game regular season run with Brooklyn — where he had a miserable 46% true shot — indicates his offense has been, too.

They might be right or wrong, and having it won’t make or break this summer. You still have to get somebody. Not signing Dragić is only a failure if the team does not acquire another reliable ball handler who can help bench units maintain cohesion and efficiency in times when Dončić or Dinwiddie are not on the table. everything on the ground. I’m also concerned, right now, about how this team will look with either player missing.

seven. Finally, it looks like the Mavericks are close to signing Tyler Dorsey to a two-way deal, according to international reports. (Moses Wright should be considered a favorite for second place, which is why he’s listed on the depth chart above, but the team has yet to make that decision for sure.) Dorsey was a pick. second-rounder in 2017 who played 104 NBA games before spending the last three seasons in Europe. He’s a 6-foot-5 winger who’s a power shooter from behind the 3-point arc and a solid defender, a 3-and-D draft that the Mavericks have largely prioritized with their two-way stances since Harrison took over. orders.

If Dallas doesn’t get involved in trades this offseason, I could see them entering the season with their final roster spot open. Luxury tax implications aside, it would give Dallas the chance to convert Dorsey to the 15-player roster if he proves his ability to serve as the relief wing the Mavericks said they sought earlier this summer. .

(Photo by Spencer Dinwiddie and Luka Dončić: Kevin Jairaj/USA Today)

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