Wesley Matthews has played two seasons with the Dallas Mavericks and is about to begin his third. Despite giving his all, night in and night out, it feels like there’s no shortage of Mavs fans ready to hate on him, whether about his statistics or his contract. We asked the staff:
Is the hate Matthews receives from some fans really warranted? Is there anything he can reasonably do this season to change their perspectives? What are your expectations for Wes going into this season?
The hate isn't warranted, but it really depends on what you expect his role to be. If it's a lockdown defender and positive locker room presence, then you're probably happy. If it's an offensive release valve and three-point shot maker, you're probably pretty frustrated with Wes, particularly when considering his contract. At 30 years old and having recovered remarkably well from what's normally been a career-ending injury, there isn't much Matthews can to do change hearts and minds. He'll continue to be divisive.
This season, I expect more of the same: good defense with mediocre shooting percentages bolstered by the occasional big night. I'd prefer he take around 10 shots a game, hit with 40 percent of his field goals (an uptick from his 36 percent three-point shooting would be great), and playing hard defense against the opposing team's best perimeter guy is all we should really hope for.
On Locked On Mavs, we ranked starting shooting guards in the NBA and both concluded Matthews is the 13th best in that group--above average. The response to that episode was basically unanimous, either everyone was in on the same joke or every Mavs fan (and a writer apparently) that responded thinks Wes is a bottom-five starting SG in the League. That logic does not make sense to me with players such as Buddy Hield, Austin Rivers, and even Tyreke Evans most likely getting the starting nods from their teams.
Wes has received an unnecessary amount of hate ever since he stepped foot on the court with the Mavericks. The dollar amount over his head has been challenged by fans almost as much as Dwight Powell's has been. Matthews' contract isn't a bargain but the idea that some fans would rather pay no one anything than pay Wes his current contract is short-sighted. Yes, Wes shot 39 percent from the floor last season, but he shot 36 percent from three point range last year as well, the same mark as Devin Booker and higher than James Harden and Carmelo Anthony, and only one tick lower than Kevin Durant's percentage last season. That, paired with the excellent defense he displayed all year, is why the hate is curious.
If you are someone that hates Wes Matthews, step back and ask yourself, would you really rather have Tyreke Evans?
I'll admit Matthews’ streaky shooting is frustrating, but my expectations for him might have been a little high when Dallas signed him a few summers ago. Half of the time I forget that he blew out his achilles, and the fact that I forget is a testament to Matthews' ability to play basketball and his relentless work ethic. Matthews will always play through injuries, he will always guard the opponent's best player, and he will always give 110 percent. That can't be said for a lot of the shooting guards around the league.
I expect Matthews to be more consistent this season than last. Since he signed in 2015, his numbers have increased each year across the board. Couple that with a potentially dynamic backcourt partner in Dennis Smith Jr. and a full season of Nerlens Noel as the defensive anchor, I think the burden to create and defend will sit lighter on Matthews' shoulders this year. I think he will still average around 13-14 points per game but shoot around 38 percent from three. Overall, the hate on Matthews is bogus. I'd go to battle with him on my team any day.
It baffles me how some fans can actually "hate" Wes. In a league that has shifted its focus more towards high-powered offense, Wes is one of the few players left that gives 100 percent on the defensive end of the floor. He's also the perfect locker room presence you want for a young guy like Dennis Smith Jr., who will just be getting his feet wet this season. People that are upset with Wes need to temper their expectations and realize that just because he doesn't score 20 ppg doesn't mean he can't earn his money in a lot of other ways. Increased shooting percentages this year would be nice, but given the history of how most NBA players come back from a torn Achilles, it's almost a miracle that Wes is doing what he's been doing the last few seasons.
Last month, I wrote about why I think Matthews is about to have his best season as a Maverick this year. In reference to that piece, Wes told me "I promise I won't make you a liar," and I believe him.
Wes is going to have a motivated Nerlens Noel helping on the defensive end, and a young, athletic point guard in Smith Jr. that will do wonders for this team in regards to spacing, taking off more pressure on the offensive end. His point, rebound and assist totals will stay the same for the most part, but I expect a more rested Matthews to increase his efficiency this season.
The most complicated evaluation on the Mavericks roster is Wes Matthews. He came to Dallas at such an uneasy time in the organization, recovering from an impossible injury, and on a contract that was well above his value (a theme for many contracts across the league over the last several years), especially coming off said injury. As nice as it would be to just evaluate his contributions to the team without considering the money he's making - it's near impossible to do. But rather than turn the focus on the Mavs front office for giving a contract like that out, people seem to blame Matthews for that. And that's unwarranted.
In theory, Matthews should be a fan favorite. MFFL's love blue collar players like Matthews who give max effort and won't back down. Like I wrote recently, Matthews and a few other vets will be key this season, as the young players continue to grow. And though the team won't be playoff competitive, this will be the best starting five Matthews has played with since joining the Mavericks. Because of that, there won't be pressure on him to be a creator on offense. I don't know that his numbers will get much better, but I think there's potential for him to be more impactful on both ends. The shooting guard position is evolving across the league, and though Matthews isn't part of that evolution, he's the sort of player any winning team wants.