Season in review
Marquese Chriss joined the Dallas Mavericks as a replacement player during the Covid-19 outbreak in December. The Mavericks, and almost every team throughout the NBA, were desperate for players. Chriss was available, and almost immediately, his high energy play won over fans.
In his first 13 games with Dallas, Chriss averaged 6.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. But once the Mavericks’ regular players returned, Chriss’ minutes dwindled. Despite a rotation that needed big man depth, Chriss just couldn’t carve out a role for himself. He got lost on defense too often, and he wasn’t brought on to be an offensive threat. Chriss finished the season averaging 4.5 points, 3 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per game. He only appeared in 34 games.
Chriss was brought in as just a body, and in December he provided more than that. But as the season wore on, despite more familiarity with the Mavericks’ schemes, he couldn’t grab a spot in the rotation. A former lottery pick, Chriss was a risk worth taking, and though it didn’t work out this season, it’s a strategy worth pursuing. Taking a flyer on talented players who failed at previous stops is always a good call.
Chriss’ best performance of the year came against the Orlando Magic in the last game of January. On the road in Orlando, Chriss was active and energetic, scoring 14 points and grabbing four rebounds, three of which were on the offensive glass. He also recorded two blocks. The Mavericks ended up losing the game, but Chriss gave them good minutes.
Chriss signed a two-year, $3.15 million contract with the Mavericks last season after proving himself with a ten-day contract. There is only one year remaining on the deal, and it pays him $2.2 million. Should the Mavericks need to include salary to facilitate a trade, Chriss would be an easy contract to throw into any deal. (Editor’s note: I had no idea he was on the team next season)
Unless Chriss makes some sort of developmental leap during the offseason, he’ll return to Dallas as an emergency big man. He’ll only play if the Mavericks are plagued with injuries again. Chriss just hasn’t shown any kind of skill that makes him playable when Dallas is fully healthy. If he develops a reliable 3-point shot, for instance, he might be able to grab some meaningful minutes. Until then, though, he’ll hold down the end of the bench until his contract runs out or he’s traded.
Chriss was part of the replacement players who played well and kept the team afloat in December. He deserves credit for that. But his inability to grab minutes late in the season and in the playoffs when the Mavericks needed a couple more guys to bolster rotation is disappointing. It’s also a reminder of why he was available on the market to begin with. Maybe with a full offseason to train Chriss will come back with some aspect of his game improved.