Dallas has been on a quest to add a formidable 3 and D option to the team (what NBA team isn’t, nowadays?) since at least the 2018-19 season, when the Mavericks needed to fill the hole left by the departure of Wes Matthews. Since then, Delon Wright and Josh Richardson have enjoyed single season stops in Dallas where they largely underwhelmed in their role.
Enter Reggie Bullock.
A bit of a career journeyman, Bullock was expected to have a handful of offseason suitors following a successful regular and post season run with the Knicks. Now, the 30-year-old 6’6” SG/SF veteran and his 41 percent three point mark will be lacing them up in Dallas where his solid shooting and, maybe more importantly, steadfast defense will hopefully give the Mavs the player they’ve been pining for the past four seasons.
Will Bullock help make the Mavericks a better defensive team? The saying goes, “defense wins championships,” and despite the league as a whole doing everything it can to obliterate that idiom by posting historic offensive numbers year after year, it’s worth noting that both Milwaukee and Phoenix had top ten defenses last season. Dallas? Twenty-first — below teams like Washington, Detroit, and the Trae Young-led Hawks.
Now, there’s only so much we can expect a single non-Kawhi player to impact a team’s defense. New Coach Jason Kidd’s overall schemes will likely have more bearing on the Dallas D than Bullock’s individual play, but Bullock gives Kidd a solid defensive piece to scheme with. Kidd cut his teeth as a defensive-minded coach early on, but that shine wore off fairly quickly. With any luck, having players like Bullock will give him some fire power on the defensive side of the ball that will elevate the team’s defensive floor.
We looked into how Bullock compared directly to the guy he’s ostensibly replacing, Josh Richardson, and there’s plenty of reason for optimism. Bullock’s 71st percentile rating in pick and roll ball handler defense and stout three point defense are tailor made for modern NBA offenses.
Best Case Scenario
Bullock has been a remarkably consistent player over the past four or five seasons. He can essentially be penciled in for 10/3/2 on a nightly basis. If he can keep that up this season while defending the opposing team’s best ball handler, that’s a huge contribution to this Mavericks team.
If we were going to get greedy and look for places Bullock might even find some improvement, look no further than his three point shot. Seems strange to say a guy who hit 40+ percent from deep can do better, but that’s just what playing with Luka can do for guys like Bullock. He’s maintained his solid three point shooting numbers while increasing his volume from two per game to over six in his most recent season. Among players who take at least three three point attempts per game, Bullock was 23rd in the league in catch and shoot three pointers. And that was playing on an offense run through Julius Randle.
Worst Case Scenario
The 3&D role is cursed. A hex placed upon it by Wes Matthews himself as revenge for being traded to the Knicks. Bullock would suffer the same fate as all those who came before him. Bullock’s defense abandons him and throws Kidd’s rotations into chaos, while simultaneously, Kidd can’t unlock the offensive potential Bullock put on display last season. There’s not enough shot to go around between Tim Hardaway Jr and Bullock, and he inexplicably gets buried behind someone like Josh Green on Kidd’s rotations before being traded mid-season for a washed Danny Green.
Bullock seems like the most sure-thing 3&D player that Dallas has had in a good while. There’s no “he showed flashes last season that we can build on,” or “if he can just get back to playing like he did in Miami,” equivocating at play here. Bullock has already shown his ability to be the exact kind of player Dallas was been trying to acquire for some time.
With any luck, Bullock walks in to a starting role from day one and provides exactly what’s expected.