NBA

Mavericks should start Reggie Bullock

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The Dallas Mavericks have publicly committed to starting Spencer Dinwiddie and JaVale McGee. Luka Doncic and Dorian Finney-Smith will also start barring disaster. That leaves only one starting position open, but Dallas has two players who likely consider themselves starters in Christian Wood and Reggie Bullock.

Bullock was indispensable in the playoffs last season. He averaged 39.3 minutes per game and the Mavericks outscored opponents by 2.5 points per game with him on the court. Over/under is an incredibly fickle stat, but it’s easy to see why it was so important.

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The Mavericks roster is largely made up of players who excel on offense or defense. Finney-Smith, Bullock and Maxi Kleber were the only members of last season’s rotation to bring value at both ends of the court.

Doncic may be the best attacking player in the world, but teams make a point of attacking him defensively. McGee has the potential to provide value at both ends as a screener and rim runner on offense and a rim protector and rebounder on defense. McGee doesn’t offer the five-man option, which has been the Mavericks’ most successful setup in years. Dinwiddie was a revelation with the Mavericks, but he was never known as an elite defenseman.

If the Mavericks start Wood in this setup, Finney-Smith may be the only player who offers real value on both ends. Wood has some interesting defensive tools with a 7’4” wingspan and incredible agility and versatility, but he’s been bullied at that end for years. Our own Josh Bowe did a fantastic job of breaking down Wood’s strengths and weaknesses in a post-trade post. It’s hard to imagine Jason Kidd, who was one of the greatest defensive guards in history as a player and who prioritized defense as a coach, would be willing to play a lineup too. defensive.

But Wood is also the most talented player – other than Doncic – the Mavericks have had since he joined the team. There was a ton of excitement about the possibility of pairing Doncic and Wood in the pick and roll. The most effective way to do this is to start them together. The problem is throwing them alongside McGee, Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith neutralizes the threat of this pick and roll.

Finney-Smith has turned into a good shooter, but teams aren’t planning a play to take his shot away from him. In short, if Finney-Smith is the primary ground spacer around a pick and roll, that pick and roll is going to be cramped. This, coupled with McGee’s usefulness as a rim runner, would appear to lead to an offense focused on McGee scouting for Doncic with Wood spacing the floor out rather than setting up screens. Wood is a very good shooter, but the strength of his offense is his versatility.

If the Mavericks relegate Wood to mere floor spacing around a Doncic/McGee pick and roll, it’s doubtful he’d provide enough offensive value to negate his defensive shortcomings. That’s why, if the plan is to use McGee as the main filter, starting Bullock makes more sense.

Bullock is a high-volume, fast-trigger shooter. He’s taken more than 10 three-point attempts per 100 possessions in three of the last four seasons, and he’s a 38.5 percent career three-point shooter. A combination of him and Finney-Smith as ground spacers with Dinwiddie as an option to attack a scatter defense past a fence follows the blue imprint of some very successful Mavericks offenses over the past few seasons.

More importantly, it allows the Mavericks to be competitive defensively. Starting Dinwiddie instead of Brunson is pretty much a defensive washout, although there is an added advantage due to Dinwiddie’s height and length. McGee is a serious improvement over Powell defensively. This starting lineup gives the Mavericks the best mix of offense and defense possible without simply relying on Doncic to literally create every shot.

Doncic will still play plenty of minutes with Wood. Those minutes will come when Wood is joined by Kleber in the front court rather than McGee. Part of Wood’s value is his ability to create his own plans rather than demanding that Doncic create them all for him. However, he is at his best against crosses rather than power forwards.

Playing him with Kleber maximizes the pressure the Mavericks can put on opposing big men while minimizing Wood’s defensive gaps. Kleber is an incredibly versatile talent who can space the ground while protecting the rim and standing on the perimeter. Very few teams will be able to handle the Mavericks with both on the ground and even fewer bench units will be able to.

It may be difficult to convince Wood, who is the second most talented player in the team, to agree to come off the bench. But if the team is committed to starting McGee, that’s the lineup that makes the most sense. The roster setup who starts is far less important than who finishes anyway, and Coach Kidd has been incredibly clear that he realizes the value of Bullock and five offenses based on the roster decisions he made during the playoffs.

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