Season in review
Maxi Kleber had an incredibly strange season. Through the all star break he had played in 42 games and shot 37.2 percent from three on 4.5 attempts per game and 43.5 percent from the floor despite the majority of his shots being threes. He also averaged eight points and six rebounds per game during this time.
Then during the all star break, the Monstarz stole his talent. He played in 17 games after the all star break and shot 18.8 percent from three and 29.8 percent from the floor. His woeful shooting lowered his scoring to 4.5 points per game after the break. Overall, he averaged 7.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while playing in 59 games.
Fortunately, the Monstarz were defeated between the regular season and playoffs and Kleber regained his shooting touch. He shot 43.6 percent from three on 4.3 three point attempts per game in the playoffs. He shot 50.9 percent from the field and chipped in 8.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game despite tailing off against the Golden State Warriors.
The best game for Kleber was very clearly Game 2 against the Utah Jazz. Kleber was coming off of the incredibly cold second half of the season. He had made 2-of-5 threes in Game 1 but there was still concern about his shooting going into the playoffs. That concern was quickly answered as he made a career high EIGHT threes in route to 25 points. His true shooting percentage was 100.52 percent in this game.
It is easy to forget now but this game was an incredibly perilous time for the Mavericks. Luka Doncic was out and the Mavericks were already down 0-1 to the Jazz. It is very possible that without Kleber and Jalen Brunson’s heroics in this game, that the Mavericks would be coming off of a third consecutive first round exit.
Kleber has one season remaining at $9,00,000 with $250,000 in likely incentives and $250,000 in unlikely incentives. Following this season, he will be an unrestricted free agent.
Kleber is incredibly important to the Dallas Mavericks. There are very few players in the world who can shoot threes, defend the rim and defend wings or guards on switches. The playoffs showed that his success can be a barometer for the Mavericks’ success. During the first two series, he averaged 10.1 points on 55.0 percent shooting from the floor and 49.2 percent shooting from three. The Mavericks won both series. Against Golden State, his scoring fell to 5.2 points per game as he shot 38.5 percent from the floor and 26.3 percent from three. The Mavericks were destroyed in five games.
The Mavericks both need to maximize Kleber while lessening his minutes load during the regular season. He allows the team to play “five out” without sacrificing defense. This is what makes him special but he has also shown a tendency to wear down when given big minutes for an extended period of time. He is also beginning to age as he turned 30 this season. The Mavericks should cherish the time they have with Kleber, but they should also begin getting ready for the inevitable future without him.
The success in the first two rounds prevents the grade from being any lower while the slump in the second half of the regular season prevents it from being any higher.