What We Can Expect from New Maverick Wesley Matthews?


Mavericks: Wesley Matthews Q&A with Dane Carbaugh

The Dallas Mavericks landed themselves an excellent – at least on paper –  replacement for Monta Ellis at the shooting guard spot in former Portland Trailblazer Wesley Matthews, but there are still questions and possibly concerns.

He’ll be filling the shoes of the leading scorer on a 50-win team, but is a very different player. Ellis is a lightning quick slasher who is extremely dangerous with the ball in his hands as a playmaker but lacks discipline defensively and credible long range accuracy.

Matthews is mostly a stand-still shooter who can post up smaller defenders but doesn’t particularly like putting the ball on the floor, and a terrific perimeter defender.

Plus, he’s coming off of an injury that has derailed many a career.

To find out more on the new addition we turned to Dane Carbaugh, an NBA writer who has worked for Sporting News, SB Nation, HP Basketball, and most importantly in this case, Blazersedge. Follow him on Twitter at @danecarbaugh for more!

1. What should Mavericks fans expect from Wesley Matthews on and off the court?

Off the court, Matthews is a consummate professional. He will be liked in the locker room, he’s a hustler in the gym and he’s affable. He’s smart, media friendly but still just a regular dude on the team.

On the court is harder to predict. He’s always going to try hard, and expect him to still do what he does best: post up and shoot the three. Outside of that? That leads me to …

2. Many, including myself, are cautious of that ugly Achilles injury. How do you see Wes recovering? Think the Mavericks will get the same player we saw pre-injury? Or is his best basketball behind him?

…The biggest issue with Matthews’ injury isn’t going to be his explosiveness on the offensive end of the floor. He’s not a pick-and-roll player at all. He’s a soft-jumping 3-point shooter and a post-up guard.

What everyone seems to overlook is that a huge part of Matthews’ value — both over his career and for the Mavericks with this new contract — is his defensive ability. The Achilles will likely take something off his quickness when he’s trying to make the first step around a pick or simply in one-on-one situations.

So, no, I don’t believe we will see the same guy we saw in Portland. I also don’t think that means he’s going to play poorly or that Dallas overpaid him.

3. Still on the injury: think the Mavs made a smart gamble betting on Wes to recover and offer him that four-year deal?

Yes. There are two factors in play here. First, it’s about time that Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki actually landed someone. They should be happy about that fact alone. After losing out on Deron Williams (the first time), Dwight Howard, and DeAndre Jordan, getting Matthews should feel like a win.

Return on investment is another thing. I’m not in the camp that thinks Matthews is going to fail completely. Even at his worst, he’s going to hit threes and post up for you. Worst case scenario he’s 36-year-old Vince Carter. Would that be overpaying on a strictly utilitarian scale? Sure. But the gamble — as it is with just about any NBA talent outside of about five top flight guys — is that they might not produce for you at all.

Add in that he’s a good fit for a team looking to make a final push with Dirk and I don’t think it’s a crazy deal. Add in a cap explosion and Cuban can just spend his mid-level exception on new hydraulic legs for him or a jetpack something. 2017 is going to be nuts.

4. If he can get to full-strength, how do you see him fitting in alongside Chandler Parson, Dirk Nowitzki, and Deron Williams?

He should fit well. He will run off a million screens in a system he’s already familiar with thanks to the connection between Terry Stotts and Rick Carlisle. He adds a second post player they can use on smaller or inexperienced wings. He’s incredibly useful in transition, which both plays to Parsons’ strengths and alleviates trips down the court for Nowitzki.

At full tilt, Matthews is a borderline All-Star with a solid head on his shoulders. Who says no to that? *Fights off Jerry Reinsdorf and James Dolan at the same time*

5. Assuming Deron Williams can play at least marginally well and Parsons and Matthews are good to go, how do you see this Mavericks team panning out in the West?

Dallas might be one of the hardest teams to predict, along with the Clippers. On paper, it looks like the Mavericks should contend for one of the bottom two seeds in the West. In reality? Deron Williams shot lower than 40% last season and it’s rumored that JaVale McGee could be in the mix for the center position if The Ghost of Zaza Pachulia doesn’t work out.

What the Hell that means is anyone’s guess. In a perfect world, you have a team of veterans that can mesh together at the right time in their career to go on a wonder run. But the absolute worst is a trainwreck where Parsons winds up scoring 18 points a night on 26 shots all while spending entirely too much time picking which filter should go on his pre-game Instagrams of shoes that cost more than my rent.

The West didn’t get any easier, and Dallas’ chances can be best summed up by pointing out that their most stable offseason gamble was going $16MM+ to a 28-year-old with a ruptured Achilles.

6. What is/are your favorite Wes moment(s)?

I would say my impression about Matthews is more of him as a man than a moment. Last season, I opened the year by doing a feature on him and his journey from undrafted rookie to a star on the verge of a big payday. (http://www.sportingnews.com/nba/story/2014-10-29/portland-trail-blazers-wesley-matthews-brandon-roy-career-stats-contract-salary)

During that conversation with Matthews, I asked him about a post-up move fans in Dallas will likely see often. He backs down a defender, and lets them bump him two or three times. Immediately after the last bump, he spins and turns into the defender for a quick one-handed shot. It’s really awkwardly timed and hard to defend. It’s something you see Andre Miller do a lot.

Anyway, when I asked him about that he seemed genuinely appreciative that someone finally noticed it and brought it up to him; that someone admired his hard work.

Being that kind of genuine will make Matthews hard to hate in Dallas, no matter his performance. Fans will love him. Media will love him. Coaches will love him.

7. The Blazers had a rough offseason…to say the least. What do you expect out of them and will they fall as far as some suggest (out of the playoffs)?

They’re going to be terrible and I’m going to love watching every minute of it. Bad basketball is a hobby of mine. I’m mostly excited to see how the whole Meyers Leonard / Mason Plumlee thing plays out. Who will get minutes? Will they swap positions in Stotts’ lineup? Will they get one of those necklaces that’s a heart split in two with “BEST FRIENDS” on one and “FOREVER” on the other? It’s all very exciting.

Next: Mavericks Reserves: Who is the best of the bunch?

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