It’s safe to say that most observers didn’t think Boban Marjanovic was on the Dallas Mavericks’ radar this summer. Of course, the Mavs run a tight ship when it comes to their wheelings and dealings. Now that he’s here, he brings with him a certain levity and joy that the team hasn’t seen in the locker room. Not only that, his larger than life personality and stature come with a built-in celebrity from his web series with former teammate Tobias Harris and his appearance in the third John Wick movie. That should play well in Dallas, where everyone thinks of themselves as notable in someway. But Boban isn’t here to glam it up. He’s here to play basketball. Here’s what he brings to the table.
There are two main questions that face the Mavericks now that they have Marjanovic. The first is how much playing time will he see. Throughout his career, he’s averaged just 9.8 minutes per game. That’s ticked up in recent years, however. Last season, he averaged 13.9 minutes after being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. While it’s possible that he could see more time with Dallas, an average of 10-13 minutes per game seems like a reasonable prediction. That may not be enough for fans, though. They’ll likely clamor for him to be in the game as much as possible. He has all the makings of a fan favorite.
The other question is what will his role be on the team. We know that he’ll come off the bench, as he has done for much of his career. We know that he’ll be a backup center. Beyond that, we don’t know much about how head coach Rick Carlisle will use him in the offense. At Media Day, Marjanovic hinted that this could be the year that he’s allowed to unleash his deep ball on the league.
“I never think about it, to be honest, because I’m told that I need to be in the paint, but when I heard the news [that I can start shooting 3-pointers], I was like ‘Yeah!’” Marjanovic joked. “Maybe I’m the best shooter. You never know.”
Carlisle hinted that the team may look to shoot more threes this season. Last year the team set a franchise record with 3,002 attempts. Adding Boban to the arsenal from deep would certainly shake things up. It’s not unprecedented, though. Just last year, Salah Mejri was given the green light to start taking open looks from the perimeter. Marjanovic could pick up where Mejri left off.
Best case scenario
If Marjanovic appears in over 60 games, scores more than 500 points, and becomes a competent and timely threat from the outside, then the Mavericks should be ecstatic. The first two would be career highs and the third is just a cherry on top.
No one is expecting him to have an All-Star-caliber season. That’s OK. That’s not his role. But in limited minutes, he’s proven that he can have a valuable impact on games. Take a look at his Per 36 numbers. Last season combined, he averaged 22.3 points on 61.5 percent shooting, 14 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.4 blocks. He’s not wasting his time lollygagging when he’s on the floor. He’s putting in work. The Mavericks will need his burst of energy if they want to compete for a playoff spot this season.
Worst case scenario
As with all things in sports, injury could totally derail Marjanovic’s season. That’s the ultimate worst case scenario. Other than that, is there really a downside to what Boban brings? He’s proven that he’s capable of producing time and again. He’s an efficient role player and the Mavericks aren’t going to ask him to be more than that.
Besides, things are already off to a good start. Even the often curmudgeonly Carlisle is excited to have him on the team.
“He came in smiling and hugging everyone,” Carlisle said of Marjanovic. “He said ‘I land in Dallas and this just feels like a great place, I love it here already.’ That’s a winner. Those kinda guys, you can’t get enough of those kind of guys.”