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Mavs Mailbag: trades, lineups, and Brandan Wright catching Luka Doncic lobs

We’re diving into a wide range of questions, as the Mavericks sit at 6-3 early in the season.

Dallas Mavericks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks had an up and down first week of November, and enter a tough slate of games this week. Though they did face a three game stretch of the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, and Los Angeles Lakers (where they went 1-2), this week will be an interesting test for a team trying to prove they are a playoff team worth fearing.

You sent in your questions through the Mavs Moneyball Twitter account. Let’s dive in!

@TheAverageBrian: When is the earliest we see Roby actually on the floor during an NBA game this year?

2019 second round draft pick Isaiah Roby seeing playing time with the Mavericks hinges on two things: roster health, and postseason reality. If one or more of the bench players gets snagged with an injury, we may see Roby suit up. Though it’s likely Rick Carlisle would still do some patchwork and he may not play.

But the second point is much more important. If the Mavericks are remotely close to sniffing the playoffs, and by the looks of it now it’s conceivable, then Roby won’t see the floor. He may get peppered in here and there around the All-Star Break to give other players rest. But Roby is a major project, and if the Mavs are aiming for the postseason it will be hard for him to see time.

@claudedsmith: Remember the refs took 2 wins from us.

I’m not sure I see the question here, unless you’re actually asking if I remember. Usually I wouldn’t include comments in the mailbag, but I wanted to note here: the Mavs may have taken two L’s by controversial calls (or non-calls), but they also stole two wins.

The Mavericks didn’t have much business beating the Denver Nuggets with how ugly a game Doncic and Porzingis had. And they certainly did not deserve the win against the Magic. So let’s call it even.

@hiblake0: Our number one priority has to be how do we get Porzingis going?

I actually disagree with this, simply because I expect a patient season-long process to get Kristaps Porzingis up to speed. The Mavericks have played well overall early this season, and it’s been exciting, but has also skewed some expectations.

KP is averaging 20 points, eight rebounds, and nearly three blocks a game, while also shooting just under 39 percent from three. Considering his injury and time off, that’s pretty remarkable. His production will come in waves, and there shouldn’t be any reason to rush him or focus too much on his game-to-game development. Especially while the role players are contributing in such key ways.

@Christo75028704: 1. What’s wrong with Zing? 2. Why does Rick hate Delon Wright? 3. Is THJ........good?

I’ll point to my comments above about Porzingis to encourage everyone to give time and space to his return to basketball.

As for Delon Wright, or for any other bench guard for that matter, it’s hard to say what draws Carlisle one way or other. I think many of these assessments shouldn’t be made until mid-December or later, because he will continue to tinker. Long term, Wright will be a key player down the stretch.

This question was asked before the Knicks-Grizzlies back-to-back, where Tim Hardaway Jr. showed the two extremes of his game. I’ve already made my confusion known in a recent recap. The bottom line is Hardaway is a streaky volume shooter. Some nights he’s going to really have it, others he really won’t. Reeaaally won’t. Hopefully Carlisle knows when to use him and when to put in Wright, or I don’t know, maybe a certain Curry that’s shooting 41 percent from three.

@anjocua: How will we improve our defense to take the team to the next level?

This roster wasn’t built with a lot of defensive ability. They are currently 17th in the league in defensive rating, and if they can sit somewhere around league average all season that’s sufficient. With the number one offense, their net rating is eighth in the league. All of that is solid.

Some of this will improve with team chemistry, but they will eventually need to sort out how they handle switching and coverage of high screen and rolls, as the Mavericks have been eaten alive a number of times in the lane covering trailing big men.

@BChairWJ: Who do you think Coach Carlisle will eventually settle on for crunch time outside Luka and KP?

There may never be a set closing unit, which may be frustrating. He’s often opting for hot hand shooters on any given night, with perhaps one wing defender, and that may be the way all season.

The sample size is very small, but the lineup that has played the most minutes together is Doncic, Porzingis, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell and Seth Curry. A lineup that could be seen as a closing group. But the net rating is a very bad -25.6 in its small sample.

However the lineup I’d like to see has actually played together just three minutes: Doncic, Porzingis, Wright, Curry and Maxi Kleber. I think it’s an interesting blend, able to play five-out on offense while protecting the rim and the three point line on the other end. In those three little minutes they have a +20 Net Rating. I’d like to see this crew get more run.

@JacksonBWills: Do you think the CP3 to Dallas rumors are legit? And if so what do you think will be the outcome?

No. This all started floating around due to a Zach Buckley Bleacher Report article , but this wasn’t a rumor. Mark Cuban loves splashy deals, but this one simply makes no sense. Chris Paul is not a match in personality or play for this Mavericks team. Let this fanciful and ill-advised idea pass.

@DallasMan1976: What would it take to get a guy like Andre Drummond from Detroit?

I have no scoop on moves out of Detroit, but the 3-5 Pistons would move a cornerstone like Drummond if they are fully prepared to blow everything up and get major return. The Mavericks don’t have the players are assets to give. And if they did, it would likely deplete key reserves or draft picks.

All that aside, Drummond should not be a Mavericks target. His style of play doesn’t click in with what is already trying to gel between Doncic and Porzingis. You want a trade target? Find a wing shooter.

@_shumway_: How fun would Brandon ‘helicopter’ Wright be with Luka on the court?

2014 Brandan Wright was a sight to behold. And when the 2019 Mavericks offense is really humming, they favor that 2014 squad (prior to the godforsaken Rondo trade). Wright would be an incredible compliment to both Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. It’s a shame he couldn’t be in Dallas for this era.