The Dallas Mavericks have been without starting center Dwight Powell since Jan. 21, when the right Achilles tendon broke against the Los Angeles Clippers. Days later, the Mavericks reacted quickly, trading for Golden State Warriors center Willie Cauley-Stein. This week it was announced that Cauley-Stein will stop playing in Orlando when the league returns in July.
While it’s understandable that any player in the league doesn’t participate in Orlando with so much air and everyone’s health at stake, it’s especially true for Cauley-Stein, who will soon welcome a newborn with his partner. That excitement aside, the Mavericks will have a new task on their hands, once again planning their core rotation.
During the first half of the season, Rick Carlisle played an elaborate musical chair game, where lineups and rotations could be rearranged or replaced in the blink of an eye. It was at its highest point of all time in the first month of the season, before Tim Hardaway Jr. solidified his starting role in late November.
But even when the rotations settled, the constant evolution remained. Needless to mention, the Dallas Mavericks’ most-used lineup this season (Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, Kristaps Porzingis and Dwight Powell) has played just 205 minutes together, ranking as the 33rd most-used lineup. throughout the season. league.
When Powell suffered his devastating injury and Carlisle had to recalibrate, he forced the Mavericks to make a key adjustment: move Kristaps Porzingis to his right place as a starting center. That does not mean that Powell’s verticality in the hoop was not valuable and he was very surprised, but he opened the floor for Porzingis and Doncic to operate and exposed confrontations that did not exist weeks before.
We saw this development through the Porzingis averages. In his 31 games before Powell’s injury, KP averaged 17 points, nine rebounds and two blocks per game, while shooting 34 percent from three. In the 20 games after the injury, he had 22 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game, and dropped 36 percent from deep. And this is practically unchanged in minutes (31 minutes per game in both sections).
A new rotation
It may not be anything new that the Mavericks are plugging many holes in the rotation while in Orlando. But aside from flexibility, the fact is that four rotational players will be absent on their return. The biggest hit will be in the post.
Behind Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks will deploy Maxi Kleber, who is in the midst of his most impactful season in Dallas. At 25 minutes per game, Kleber, who according to basketball-reference.com has played an estimated 87 percent of his minutes in the center, is averaging nine points, five rebounds and one block per game, while shooting a better 37 percent on his three race.
It works with the Mavericks advantage that Porzingis and Kleber have not been an especially dominant couple on the floor together. Even though they can both hit three and protect the rim, the tandem has the 19th (out of 26) best net rate among Mavericks couples who have played at least 500 minutes together this season. His defensive rating of 104.3 drops to 24 of those 26 pairs. So while Kleber could be one of the top five Mavericks standing this season, his impact and courage will be felt even more off the bench.
The big question is based on one of, for example, the greatest players in the league. The intrigue of having a player like Boban Marjanovic was evident the moment the Mavericks signed him in the offseason. His personality and presence in the dressing room is a constant advantage, even if his production on the floor has been mostly good.
Yes, the 7’4,290-pound Marjanovic had a poetically brilliant game against the Denver Nuggets in mid-March when the NBA world, and the world at large, stopped. His 31 points, his personal record, with 17 rebounds, two blocks and two steals, made it appear that the Mavericks had touched a new level for Bobi; some kind of cheat code “In case of emergency glass break”.
However, the reality is that Boban cannot be used in most fighting. Against the Denver Nuggets and the Philadelphia 76ers of the world, perhaps. But with the athletics and mobility of so many teams becoming the base of the offense, Boban will likely see his nine minutes per game cut down.
Needing a third option becomes less important as the game progresses to the postseason, when rotations are reduced and the stars are more trusted. Porzingis and Kleber will undoubtedly become more vital than ever.
But who can the night be on the third wave for the Mavericks when those two need a break? My hunch is that Carlisle can look to Mavericks newcomer Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to play minutes here and there with an ultra-small five.
At an estimated weight of 6.6 and 232 pounds, MKG may not be one of the tallest, but it could have the mass to complete. Kidd-Gilchrist hasn’t had much of an impact, appearing in nine games and going just 1 of 7 from the floor. Its notorious shooting move, and its well-known defense, MKG could show some versatility and hit low. This could also relieve you of taking external shots.
He has demonstrated track athletics in the past, with the ability to finish through contact. Although most of this is showing traits of a slasher and not a pick and roll finisher (very little used as the shooter), could he do enough to fill in the gaps for five to ten minutes per game when Boban doesn’t It can be used? ?
The Mavericks have a few questions to answer regarding their huge men’s turnover and how much they can trust Porzingis and Kleber. Fortunately for them, they have a rotating mastermind at the helm. Despite all the annoyance he can cause fans for a season, Carlisle’s value is evident right now.