Season in review
Maxi Kleber is one of the more impressive role players on the Mavericks roster. I will now be referring to him as the NBA’s juggernaut after playing in a league-best 74 games last season. Despite a forgettable performance in the playoffs, he put up multiple career-high numbers in the regular season.
Last season, Kleber averaged 9.1 points per game (career-best), 5.2 rebounds per game (career-best), 1.2 assists (career-best) and 1.1 blocks per game (tied for career-best). It’s encouraging that the third-year undrafted big-man has continued to improve his averages on the court. Offensively, Kleber really impressed me with his ability to shoot from behind the arc. He shot a career-best 37.3 percent on three-point attempts this season. His reliability from downtown makes him a great pick-and-pop partner for Luka Doncic.
Kleber also showed how good he can be on defense. He held his opponents to just 30.3 percent shooting from behind the arc. Surprisingly, Kleber defended shots from guards more than any other position and then somehow held them to just 37.5 percent shooting from the field and 29.0 percent on three-point attempts. While Kleber may not have been an extraordinary shot blocker, his defensive value was very high.
Kleber’s season-high scoring performance came against the Orlando Magic in late February when he scored 26 points. Aside from the high-scoring game, my favorite game from him this past season was his defensive performance against Zion Williamson. Kleber’s season-high five blocks against the league’s prized possession were a blessing to watch.
Next season, Kleber will be entering the second year of his four-year, $35.90 million contract. For what he brings on both sides of the floor, he is one of the best value role players in the league. But don’t think this makes him untouchable on the trade block. I can see multiple teams making calls to the Mavericks this off-season trying to make an offer for Kleber. As Dallas attempts to turn their assets into a championship caliber roster, it’s not crazy to think that Kleber — or mostly any Maverick for that matter — could be in different threads next season.
If he is still in a Mavericks jersey next season, the team would like at least a replica of this past season. Nine points and five rebounds feels roughly like the ceiling for Kleber. Maybe he stretches that point average into double digits, but expecting much more out of an undrafted player is pushing it. The numbers don’t lie, and while Kleber’s are pretty good, his value outside the basic box score is key. As long as Kleber can defend a team’s best player and make open shots, he’s welcome in Dallas.