Dallas Mavericks: One Player to Watch in Each Playoff Series
By Isaac Harris
The Dallas Mavericks are not in the playoffs this season, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any players to watch from a Mavs perspective.
The Mavericks won just 24 games this season and currently have the third best odds at landing the top overall pick in the NBA Draft.
But the draft pick isn’t the only way for the Mavericks to improve the roster this summer.
Here are players to watch in each series that Dallas could target in free agency or via trade this summer.
Warriors vs. Spurs
Kevin Looney is a 6’9″ forward that has been stashed away on the bench of Golden State this year averaging just 13 minutes a game. But after Game 1 of their first round series vs. the Spurs, he could have a bigger role if they continue to roll over San Antonio.
Looney is just 22 years old and was the 30th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. With the Warriors deciding not to extend him after his rookie contract, Looney will hit unrestricted free agency this summer.
Dallas could look to take advantage of another cast off Warrior and try to develop the versatile forward.
Raptors vs. Wizards
The Wizards Core
John Wall. Bradley Beal. Otto Porter Jr. Kelly Oubre Jr.
There might not be a more non-unified team in the playoffs as the Washington Wizards. As they face the red-hot Toronto Raptors, the likelihood of them losing in a short series is high. If this does take place, you might see some big changes coming to the Wizards.
Wall’s new contract will be difficult to trade and Dallas already has Dennis Smith Jr. I would be very surprised if Washington moved on from Bradley Beal. That leaves the newly extended Porter Jr. and the young wing in Oubre Jr.
If Washington decided to entertain offers for either, should Dallas make a call?
Sixers vs. Heat
It was just a few summers ago that Mark Cuban met with Hassan Whiteside at the beginning of free agency. Whiteside decided to return to Miami for a bigger payday and the rest is history.
Now, things have soured between the Heat and Whiteside after disagreements on his playing time. After a rant to the media, speculation has already started about Miami exploring trade options this summer for the big man.
Will Dallas make a call if the price is right?
Can Whiteside go head-to-head with Joel Embiid? Can he prove to be a positive on the court? Can he stay on the court?
Blazers vs. Pelicans
If you had to make a big three in Portland, it would start with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. After that, most people would say Jusuf Nurkic.
The 23-year-old big man from Bosnia came over to Portland in a trade, but was unable to land a long-term extension with the Blazers. As a result, Nurkic will hit restricted free agency this summer.
He will get the task of guarding Anthony Davis for a series that will put a huge spotlight on him. If he can hold his ground against Davis, will that impact his price or future in Portland?
If Dallas doesn’t land a big man in the draft, exploring the center market in free agency might be something they look at. Although how much they like Nurkic is undetermined, they could make a call if his asking price is right.
Celtics vs. Bucks
One of the more interesting free agents in the past five years in my opinion.
Parker was the second overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and was destined to be one of the next young stars in the league. Now, after two torn ACLs, Parker is hitting restricted free agency at the age of 23.
These playoffs provide him an opportunity to prove his value.
If he can be the Robin to Giannis’ Batman and help push the Bucks to the second round or even conference finals, he could demand a near max this summer.
The question is, if you are a team like Dallas that has already set their sights on him, do you want him to break out in the playoffs?
Jabari Parker is the number one guy I am watching from a Mavs perspective these playoffs.
Cavaliers vs. Pacers
Similar to Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood is hitting restricted free agency this summer after failing to come to an extension with the Utah Jazz at the beginning of the year.
Hood made his way to Cleveland at the trade deadline and started in 11 of his 21 games as a Cavalier. His value on the open market will be interesting to watch as the Cavs are in a limbo of their own with LeBron James.
If a team comes in and signs Hood to a quick contract, Cleveland will be in a tough spot as they wait on James’ decision.
For Dallas, if they land a big in the draft, they could chase the 25-year-old Hood to be their long-term Wesley Matthews replacement.
Jazz vs. Thunder
Huestis is an under-the-radar free agent wing that I believe will be coveted by multiple teams this summer.
He is still just 26 years old and is the former 29th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He appeared in 69 games this season for the Thunder and gives them another versatile, 6’7″ wing off the bench.
Huestis played all four years at Stanford…with Dwight Powell. Both him and Powell played all four years of college together and could be recruited by Powell this summer if the price is right.
I will be watching to see if Huestis gets minutes in the postseason and the impact he has on the court for the Thunder.
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Rockets vs. Timberwolves
The logical free agent pick here is Clint Capela. But I really don’t believe Houston lets him go this offseason under any circumstance.
For that reason, I am going with Andrew Wiggins.
Minnesota barely got into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season on the backs of Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns. For the sake of keeping it short, Andrew Wiggins isn’t the most efficient player for the Wolves and his fit with the team is weird.
If Minnesota gets swept by the Rockets and Wiggins is a no-show for the Wolves, Minnesota might entertain offers in hopes of trying to find complimentary pieces that fit better around Butler and Towns.
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Should Dallas make a call? Would Dallas take on a contract like Wiggins into their cap space? I’m not sure of those answers, but I am watching Wiggins in these playoffs.