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After a good regular season (winning 51 games when Luka misses 17 games and comes in 20+ pounds overweight is quite the accomplishment) and a GREAT postseason and run to the Western Conference Finals, the question is, HOW does this team improve this off-season with limited assets going forward?
I fully expect the Mavs to bring back Brunson -- he is the number 1 priority. But assuming we do, what are the Mavs top needs?
Rim Protection. We only had 1 rim protector after the KP trade in Maxi. After the trade, our defense fell to average... It picked back up again in the playoffs but the rim protection in particular was finally exploited in the Western Conference finals
Rebounding. We knew we were going to struggle post trade on the boards -- as neither of our Cs were good rebounders. This was exploited in each series -- but our defense was able to cover up the flaw in the first 2 series.
Wing Depth/Perimeter Defense. The playoff run showed us just how much and how good the combination of DFS and Bullock are. How important they are to this team and how Kidd wants to play defense. The playoffs also exploited just how little depth we have at the wing -- as only DFS/Bullock were really playable.
Shot Diversity/shot creation. This can be coupled with the above 3 points -- The Mavs current only form of shot creation comes from guards creating everything. The burden is completely on Luka, Brunson, and Dinwiddie's shoulders to set up our shot finishers. It will be important to add another aspect - whether that is a slashing wing that can put the ball on the floor or a rim running big who can get offensive rebounds and covert easy points to diversify how the team is able to get points when the three is not falling.
I believe the Needs should be addressed in the above order, starting with the Rim Protection need. There is a steady supply of rim protectors - And not enough demand. I believe we will be able to address this need fairly easily and on the cheap if the Mavs buy into the bullpen approach when it comes to our big rotation.
Options at Rim Protectors/Rebounders:
Use the TPE (10.8m) - which expires June 28th. This could be used at the draft.
- Holmes, Favors, Noel, Theis, Zach Collins, J. Hays, Len, Naz Reid (assuming the option is picked up, Plumlee, Saric, Birch.
Several distressed assets -- and a few that could become available based on who their current team drafts. a few that would fit both our rim protection and rebounding need. Will have to attach some sort of future pick to this trade (cannot send out a player to use the TPE)
- Biyombo, McGee, Robin Lopez, Gorgei Dieng, Dwight Howard, Drummond, Whiteside, Thompson, Cousins
Older players that could fit one of the needs in rebounding or rim protection.
Taxpayer MLE (6.3m)
- Nurkic (likely will go higher), Thomas Bryant, Mo Bamba (assuming he is renounced), Jalen Smith, Isaiah Hartenstein, Thad Young, Harrell, Boucher, Looney.
Few of these options will price us out. But the demand will not be there for all these guys -- and we have a starting role to offer - - which could be appealing over other places or the players current role, which most of these guys are backups. Also, the appeal of catching lobs and getting open looks from generational talent Luka Doncic to increase their value for future contracts.
I do not believe we need to spend more than the above on our Rim Protection, Rebounding need -- but we could always trade picks/assets for established guys like a Myles Turner, Christian Wood, or hope to get into a 3-way trade for a guy like Clint Capella (say, the Hawks make a run for Gobert).
Or we could draft a C -- though I am not sure we get a rotation level big in year 1 at pick 26.
My preference would be to use the MLE along with our available starting role/playing with Doncic angle to bring in a younger option - like Jalen Smith, Mo Bamba, Isaiah Hartenstein, or Kavon Looney.
The Wing Depth is harder to address --- the demand for wings is at a league high premium due to how the Modern NBA is shifting. I do not think there are many wings that are going to be available at the minimum or tax-level MLE -- and the ones that are going to be available will be highly sought after by every other playoff level team.
Therefore, use the draft. There should be several options at 26 that while they may have a low ceiling, they should be ready to contribute fairly early on.
Options at Wing Depth
- Jalen Williams, EJ Liddell, Wendell Moore, Christian Braun
there are several others -- but I believe all the above would have a fairly good chance of contributing at least at a small level within the rotation in year 1 given their current skillsets - all being older and having day 1 NBA ready bodies.
Options currently on the team
- Tim Hardaway Jr -- provides the shooting depth and another wing that can put the ball on the floor. Average to poor defender
- Frank Ntilikina -- provides the perimeter defensive depth that we need -- hes a proven NBA quality defender. Almost unplayable offensively. Will be 24 next season.
- Josh Green -- has potential to grow into that perimeter defensive depth that we need with his athleticism and size. Very limited shooter but has a unique passing ability if he could improve in other areas. Wont turn 22 until October -- still incredibly young
My preference would be to draft a wing at 26, keep THJ at least through February of next season to see how he looks next to Dinwiddie, and hope either Frank or Josh Green develop into a capable rotation player
My ideal team at the beginning of the 22-23' season
PG: Luka Doncic
SG: Jalen Brunson
SF: Reggie Bullock
PF: Dorien Finney Smith
C: Isaiah Hartenstein or a lottery talent like Jalen Smith (who only just turned 22)
6th man: Dinwiddie, THJ
Bigs: Maxi, Powell
Wings: Frank, Josh Green, Ej Liddell (Bertans?)
I am interested to see the THJ/Dinwiddie roles and lineups. Dinwiddie and Luka's sizes give this team the advantage of being able to mix and match lineups.
Maxi's versatility gives us the option to run him at both the 4 and the 5 -- especially if we are able to bring in another shot blocker.
Powell gives us the luxury of trying a reclamation guy like Jalen Smith or Mo Bamba to start on this team -- because we know Powell is capable of playing solid minutes at the 5 in the regular season.
This would also prime the team to be ready to trade out assets by February of next season to get what we DO still lack -- a capable starting level wing that can play solid defense, put the ball on the floor, and shoot 3's.
Draft picks will be available, 6th man level players will be available in Dinwiddie/THJ (THJs contract de-escalating) .
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