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The consistent presence of Boban Marjanovic

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With the return of Powell and Porzingis hoping to be back by Christmas, how much of Bobi should we expect to see this season?

NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas has brought in a lot of new talent this offseason. While there are many new names to discuss, there are plenty of returning faces who are ready for their return to the court, like Boban Marjanovic.

The Mavs signed Marjanovic to a two-year, $7 million deal in the summer of 2019. He quickly became a fan favorite and showed the coaching staff why he was a useful asset to have, while not always being an every game player.

Last year, Marjanovic averaged 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds in 9.6 minutes per game. His per 36 numbers included 24.7 points, 16.8 rebounds and 1 block per game. These numbers give you an idea of how efficient he was on the floor. Those who have watched the Mavericks closely know that Bobi has certain limitations that prevent him from playing every night, let alone 36 minutes per night. He is 7’3” and has a great touch, but he isn’t the quickest big man which often makes him a defensive liability, particularly in a pick and roll league. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle does a great job at selecting his minutes and putting him with the right groups to make him as effective as he is. We will see if he has a similar role this season or if he ends up taking on more while Kristaps Porzingis recovers from off-season knee surgery.

Biggest Question

What does Boban Marjanovic’s role look like with the new additions? Last season, Boban played less than 10 minutes per game in only 44 games. However, come playoff time, he really turned heads when pressed into action. In the game two win against the los Angeles Clippers, he put up 13 points and 9 rebounds in just under 10 minutes. With Porzingis battling the knee injury in that series, Bobi’s role was pretty inconsistent from a night to night basis. Luka Doncic did a good job at getting him the ball in his spots and he did well at finishing around the rim. Boban proved to be a bit of a problem against his former team.

Granted, the Mavs didn’t have Dwight Powell or Willie Cauley-Stein, so after Porzingis went down, there weren’t exactly a multitude of options left. Nevertheless, Marjanovic went out and did his thing, proving that against certain lineups and in certain scenarios, he can be a very dominant player. This season might look a bit different. Powell will be ready to go, Cauley-Stein is back, Maxi Kleber is still above Boban in the depth chart, James Johnson, a worthy rotation player has been brought in and Porzingis will be back soon. It’s unclear what Bobi’s role will be, but it’s most likely that it will be pretty similar to last years. We won’t see him on a nightly basis, but when we do see him, he will be incredibly efficient and effective.

Best Case Scenario

Boban Marjanovic is an incredibly unique player. The best-case scenario for him is to play anywhere from 10-15 minutes per game in a limited role.

Some have been calling for Bobi to play every night and for a significant number of minutes due to his per 36 numbers. The way Carlisle utilizes him is actually best-case scenario for both Boban and the team. After his playoff performance he’s shown why he deserves to play a bit more, but after doing so much to improve as a team defensively this offseason, there are not many more minutes for him to get.

As for rebounding, last year, Marjanovic ranked last in rebounds per game when compared to the other big men on the roster. While his per 36 numbers tell a different story, all of those players played more minutes per game than Bobi, indicating that that’ll likely be the same case this season.

Since this is the best-case scenario section, let’s also just suggest that he improves as a three-point shooter. Maybe you see Carlisle throw out a lineup that includes a front court of Bobi and Maxi. Maxi could function as a roll man while Bobi functions as a pop man in the same set that they run with Powell and Porzingis. In a best case scenario, lets say that Bobi shoots 30 percent on one three per game. That would be a significant leap from last season, but still might not be enough to get him more minutes on the floor.

Worst Case Scenario

Worst case scenario could go a few different ways. One scenario includes the majority of our bigs getting injured and then Boban gets overplayed. Another is Boban plays even less than he did last year and we lose the efficient minutes that he brings. The more likely situation is probably the latter.

If Bobi is playing significantly less than he did last year, that means we’re getting what we need from the other guys on the roster. That might not necessarily be a bad thing for the team. For Marjanovic, this is the final year of his contract which means he’s playing for his next one. He might be able to get an extension based on how much this city loves him and how much the locker room loves him alone. For me, whether he plays 5 or 25 minutes per game, I don’t care as long as he’s efficient and our defensive team stats are better than they were last year. Most people believe that the team improved since last year, and after having a historically great season in terms of offensive rating, the priority needs to be defense. If that means playing Bobi 5 minutes per game this year to be better defensively as a unit, then so be it.