Editors note: Welcome to “How I’d fix the Mavericks,” a new semi-weekly column in which Mavs Moneyball staffers share their big ideas about how to make the Mavericks contenders again. These ideas will sometimes be serious and other times humorous. Let us know what you think in the comments!
Before we get started, let me just say that I realize I’m not an NBA GM. I don’t have all the answers — hell, I may not have any answers. But I still have a good set of eyes, and I can see at least one big way the Dallas Mavericks can be “fixed” going forward: Dallas needs to add a lot more length to its roster. Whether through the draft or free agency, this is arguably the major hurdle for the Mavs if they want to get back into title contention sooner rather than later.
Right now, the Mavs have five players on their roster who stand 6’3 or shorter. All of those players currently get plenty of minutes from Rick Carlisle, which often has a negative effect on the defensive end of the floor. When it comes to “small ball,” Dallas takes it quite literally, but considering the modern NBA landscape, they should start putting more effort into adding length.
If Dallas continues to be bad this season, they won’t have any problems partially filling this gap in the roster in the draft this summer. Some fans are already salivating at the idea of landing a lengthy stud prospect like Marvin Bagley III, DeAndre Ayton, Michael Porter Jr. or Mohamed Bamba.
But they’ll likely need to do more than just draft. Luckily, the Mavs’ most recent roster move tells me that they're at least trying. After cutting shooting guard, Gian Clavell, the Mavs went out and signed a bigger, longer, more defensive minded prospect in Antonius Cleveland to a two-way contract. A microscopic move at best, but it at least tells us that the Dallas front office knows that size is one of their biggest disadvantages.
Whether they do this through the draft or free agency or trades, the Mavs should strive to model their team building on the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics. Aside from Stephen Curry and Quinn Cook, every player on the Warriors roster is 6’6” or taller. The Celtics are the same way: they currently have seven forwards on their roster between 6’6 and 6’9. All of these players on both teams are pretty versatile on both ends of the court, and the majority of them can knock down three pointers if needed.
This is the direction the NBA is trending when it comes to building a roster, and it’s no surprise that the Warriors and the Celtics are arguably the best two teams in the league and have a similar makeup. Obviously, trying to build stacked teams like the Warriors and Celtics is easier said than done. A lot of dominoes have to fall your way in the draft, free agency and possibly even trades. Every other team out there trying to be the “next Warriors.”
I just hope that Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have a solid plan that gives the Mavs the best possible shot at becoming that team within the next five years.