The Athletic’s Tim Cato recently conducted a survey on how Mavericks fans are feeling about the state of the franchise. One of the more interesting questions was which Dallas Mavericks players (besides Luka Doncic) you trust to play 25-plus minutes in a playoff game.
Only Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, and Spencer Dinwiddie received over 80% support by fans. There’s a lot to unpack there, but it got me thinking. What’s my trust level with every player on the Mavericks?
I broke each player down into tiers of trust. But I couldn’t make it bland. It’s August, the doldrums of the offseason, so we have to spice things up. So my tiers are based on the trustworthiness of “Parks and Recreation” characters. Who can be trusted? Who will betray us in the postseason? Read on to find out.
Trust level: Leslie Knope
Leslie Knope is not only the most reliable character in “Parks and Rec”, she’s an absolute rock star. You’re not just going to get 100% from her. She’s going to do whatever she does at the highest level possible. Sound familiar?
Luka Doncic is not only the most reliable player on the Mavericks, he’s almost dead certain to ball out every single game. On the rare occasion Doncic has a “bad” playoff game (like if he puts up 21/6/5), you know he’s going to follow it up with a monster 40/11/12 performance the next game. There’s only been one player more trustworthy for the Mavericks, and his jersey is hanging from the rafters.
Trust Level: Ron Swanson
Ron Swanson isn’t flashy or ostentatious, but he’s reliable. A steady force in the Pawnee government, but never going above and beyond unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Dorian Finney-Smith is exactly the same way. He’ll never wow fans with a windmill dunk or go off for 40 points. But he plays great defense and is reliable from deep. Reggie Bullock is the same, providing stifling perimeter defense and the ever-present threat of going 7-of-12 from behind the arc. He’ll never create off the dribble and break a defense, but the Mavericks don’t need or expect that from either of these players.
Both of these guys can have games where they disappear, but if they didn’t, they’d be stars. That’s okay. Even Ron Swanson had his unreliable moments whenever a Tammy showed up.
Trust Level: Ben Wyatt
Ben Wyatt could be trusted — most of the time. But there were some occasions where he didn’t live up to his own high expectations, whether it was due to external factors like being fired, or health issues, like the time he was betrayed by a calzone.
That’s Maxi Kleber and Spencer Dinwiddie in a nutshell. I trust them both to play more than 25 quality minutes in a playoff game. They’ve done it recently. But both are susceptible to injury or just plain shooting slumps. If they hit a prolonged stretch of bad play in the postseason, it could devastate the Mavericks.
Trust Level: Tom Haverford
Tom Haverford is the definition of chaotic good. He’s not a bad guy, but you just never know what you’re going to get from him day to day. Tim Hardaway Jr. falls into this camp. We’ve seen him play well against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round in 2021, but we also saw him miss a ton of open shots in that same series. Now he’s a year older and coming off a foot injury. There’s no certainty as to what he looks like in the playoffs this season.
The same could be said for Javale McGee. He’s looked the part of high-level postseason rotation player in the past. But recently, he’s only been able to average 15 minutes per game in the playoffs. Maybe McGee can reach back and find his form from 2017-2020. But even then he only averaged 10 minutes per game.
Christian Wood is the true wildcard. Is he a good stats-bad team player? There’s honestly no way to predict, because this will be the first ever good team he’s ever played for in his career. Wood’s problem won’t be on offense. He’s clearly way too talented to have problems there. If Wood can’t stay on the floor in the playoffs, it’ll be due to his defense, which he’s struggled with at times.
Trust Level: Jerry Gergich
Jerry Gergich screws up everything he touches. But it’s not for lack of trying, and he’s a really well-balanced person with a good home life. I’m sure things are like that for Dwight Powell, Davis Bertans, and Frank Ntilikina. They mean well, and try their best, but you can’t trust them in the playoffs. Definitely not for more than 25 minutes. Probably not for 15, to be honest.
Trust Level: Andy Dwyer
Andy Dwyer is a lovable goof, but you can’t expect too much out of him in a serious situation. Theo Pinson has great value on the sidelines as a glue guy and chemistry conductor, but that doesn’t mean he can get 25 good minutes in a playoff game.
Trust Level: Councilman Jeremy Jam
Jeremy Jam ruined the best laid plans of Leslie Knope and the rest of her crew. Jalen Hardy is in this tier simply because he’s an unknown rookie on a high quality Western Conference playoff team. He’s unlikely to be a factor and there’s no way he gets 25 minutes in a playoff game.
Josh Green, however, is here because he’s failed to show anything other than mild raw athleticism. Maybe this year he develops a 3-point shot and some feel for the game, allowing the Mavericks to play him more than 25 minutes per game in the postseason. But it’s unlikely. Jason Kidd tried very hard to get Green into games when the Mavericks were shorthanded, and he just couldn’t cut it. There’s no trust with Green until he earns it.