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Mavs Moneyball Mailbag

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You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Or at least strong opinions

LA Clippers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Six Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Last Sunday, we put out a quiet call for some questions for a mailbag. We only had one person respond (Thanks, andyj7742!) but he asked a number of great questions. If you have more questions you’d like to see addressed about literally anything under the Maverick sun, leave a comment here, find me on twitter, send me an email, whatever you want. We’ll try to get to your questions in written form or on a podcast.

Now, to the good stuff, all from Andyj7742.

Which is the better center approach: a bullpen or one center plus a back up?

This really depends on how the Mavericks view their current big men. The offense opened up even more after Dwight Powell went down and Porzingis was forced into the role more often. However, it’s reasonable to assume the Mavericks want to avoid as much wear and tear as they can on Porzingis, given that his knees are a constant source of concern.

One member of our staff recently pitched the idea of Dallas treating KP like mid-career Tim Duncan and capping his minutes around 28-30 per game and having a host of other big men on the roster to mix and match depending on opponent. I rather like the approach, but given how basketball seems to be played these days, with more and more perimeter players, it seems unlikely. Luka Doncic needs space to operate and there just aren’t that many shooting big men in the NBA.

So while I think they need reliable bigs to staff the roster, they aren’t likely to carry more than the number they had this year (Kristaps, Boban, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, and Willie Cauley Stein), which ends up being one more than they had during most of the season since WCS didn’t join until well after Powell’s injury.

How does Delon Wright change or improve to become the player the Mavericks need him to be?

This is really difficult because I believe Wright signed thinking he would be a day one starter and he was not. The Mavericks used him in a variety of ways and when he played well, he ended up being excellent, but when he wasn’t playing well, Wright was downright awful.

First, he has to shoot more. The offense Dallas employs is one where a ball handler makes most of the decisions and Wright was reluctant when he wasn’t the main ball handler. He’s a really good cutter and Dallas must find ways to get him in positions to succeed that way and he just never found a consistently comfortable place.

Second, his on ball defense has to improve. He’s not alone in this but for a guy hailed as a defensive player, it often took a single dribble to get past him. The details matter to Carlisle and Wright made enough mistakes to result in inconsistent minutes.

Is vertical spacing an actual necessity in this NBA spacing game?

I love this question. As with so many things, it comes down to match ups. I’ve been thinking about the 2011 title run, as we should all do from time to time, and I hope the very wild opinion that the Memphis Grizzlies would’ve beaten Dallas in seven games had they match up in the playoffs. Their style, their physicality, would’ve been taxing on a Dallas line up that had a fair share of their own tough guys, but it’s my opinion that it could’ve gone sideways for the Mavericks.

To answer the question more directly, in the regular season it didn’t matter for the Mavericks. Following Powell’s injury, the offense kept humming. KP and Maxi filled in vertically in spots, but they didn’t need to most nights. The Clippers and Lakers were the only two teams in the West this year capable of bothering Dallas on offense. The Clippers had a ton of length and the Lakers played with a great deal of force on defense.

So is it needed? No, I don’t think so. Is it a luxery Dallas should try to have? Yes. Luka Doncic is a generational passer and frankly, watching him pass to guys who can’t hit wide open shots started to drive me nuts by the end of the bubble. They missed those one or two rim runs a game that loosened the defense enough to make them worried about two levels of passes, not just the ones going out to the corners.

Should the Mavs look into adding a scorer off the bench this FA instead of upgrading the starting lineup?

This dips into free agency stuff, which is likely months away, but this largely depends on what they want to do with their bench guards. Trey Burke’s role in the playoffs was “Jason Terry through a fax machine three times” and I’ve got to say, I dug it. Jalen Brunson is highly regarded but I find him to be fairly replaceable (see, Burke for more). Delon presents a different set of challenges.

Remember initially, Tim Hardaway Jr. was the bench scorer, but his move to the starting line up gave Dallas some real shooting. If they do anything interesting in free agency, I prefer it be to add someone to join the starters and move one of the various undrafted Maverick role players back in the depth chart somewhat.

Should the Mavs trade out of the first round for a future first round pick in the KP years (2021 or 2023)?

Trading to get a draft pick in a future year is my ideal circumstance. The 2021 draft has a number of guys with real star potential. But considering the Mavericks so rarely value the draft, this seems unlikely.

Should the Mavs offer the full MLE to one player or break it up to fit in two players?

This is basically the question of the off season isn’t it? I have a hard time determining what the Mavericks think of their own depth. After all, give Rick Carlisle warm bodies to run out on to the court and we’re going to see some sort of interesting basketball, regardless of the talent level.

Josh and I have long references the fact that as the season wore on, asking Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney Smith to assume the roles they played was not entirely fair to their talent level. They were each asked to be the 4th-5th-6th best player on the Mavericks at times and each is best as a lower minutes reliever to a starting calibre player.

Understanding that, my answer seems like two players, right? The challenge is this free agency class is uninspiring. It seems unlikely to get two guys of quality. So one will have to do.

Send more questions! Leave a comment, send an email, shoot me a tweet or direct message on twitter. This was fun!