The Dallas Mavericks are in desperate need of help around the him, both on the offensive and defensive end. Jakob Poeltl would solve that problem immediately. But the Mavericks can’t just sign him because a) they’d have to clear space to do so and b) it’s unlikely the Toronto Raptors let him leave.
Poeltl was sent to the San Antonio Spurs as part of the Kawhi Leonard trade and has been languishing on the River Walk the past few years. But last season the Raptors, in a similar situation as the Mavericks, needed a competent big man on their roster, so they shipped a first-round pick, Khem Birch, and some second-round picks to the Spurs to bring Poeltl home.
He instantly shored up their interior defense and provided a scoring threat around the rim. Sounds like someone the Mavericks could use right?
Poeltl is an unrestricted free agent, so theoretically the Mavericks could bring him on easily if they made some moves to free up cap space. He averaged 12.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game last season. He’s even a decent passer for a big man, averaging almost three assists per game. But with what Toronto gave up to bring him back, they’re probably motivated to keep him and would only part ways if he got an outrageous offer from another team.
Size is Poeltl’s number one strength. He’s 7’1” with a big frame, and he uses it well. He’s not mobile, but has good sense around the rim and makes life difficult for players trying to finish. He’s averaged a little over a block per game for his career.
Poeltl is also a capable rebounder. He’s not one of these guys that just absolutely vacuums up boards, like Domantas Sabonis or Nikola Jokic, but he fights on the glass every game. Again, he uses his size well and is always in good position. Additionally, Poeltl has good touch around the rim and can score easily against smaller defenders. No one is going out of their way to get Poeltl touches in the post, but if the defense breaks down and there’s a mismatch, he can absolutely get a bucket.
Poeltl isn’t mobile and can’t switch onto perimeter players easily, but that’s not surprising, considering his size. If he could defend like that and score a little more, it’s unlikely Poeltl would be seeing free agency at all.
His shooting is limited, which narrows his offensive capability. It would be beneficial if Poeltl could pop out to the 3-point line and shoot at least close to league average, but he doesn’t take 3-pointers at all. He’s taken four total 3-point attempts his entire career.
Fit with the Mavericks
Poeltl would instantly upgrade the Mavericks’ big man rotation, despite his offensive limitations. He can’t score like Christian Wood, for instance, but would anchor the defense in a way no one else on the roster last season could. Poeltl’s size would be an improvement over fundamentally sound Dwight Powell, who does all the right things but just doesn’t have the body to compete with the elite big men in the NBA. The only question is whether Poeltl would come to Dallas, and whether the Mavericks can afford him.