Dallas Mavericks: Maxi Kleber deserves more minutes this season
By Tyler Watts
The Dallas Mavericks second-year big man Maxi Kleber deserves to play more this season, but he is battling against a stacked frontcourt.
The Dallas Mavericks signed Maxi Kleber to a two-year deal in July 2017. Kleber played five years of professional basketball overseas before joining the Mavericks. He is a role player that does a lot of things well on the basketball court.
Kleber earned 16.8 minutes per over 72 games as an NBA rookie. He played well including rating as an above league average player by win shares per 48 minutes and having a positive 0.7 value-over-replacement player (VORP). At 26 years old, most would expect Kleber’s role to grow in his second season.
Coach Carlisle is a fan of the German’s game. Below is what the coach had to say during media day when asked about Kleber courtesy of Dwain Price.
That is a glowing report especially concerning his shooting. Kleber shot 31.3 percent on 3-pointers last season but was a 38.6 percent shooter for Bayern Munich the previous season. The international line is shorter, though.
Kleber becoming a league average 3-point shooter in the NBA would expand his game and likely earn him more minutes.
Other options limiting minutes
Kleber deserves to play more this season, but in reality, he likely plays less. Training camp battles are still ahead of us, but the Mavs have plenty of options to play at the four and five spots.
Kleber is behind Harrison Barnes, DeAndre Jordan, and Dirk Nowitzki in the minute’s pecking order for certain. Dwight Powell also played over him last season. Additionally, the Mavericks would like to find minutes for Salah Mejri and Ray Spalding.
Breaking it down, there are 96 minutes available between the two positions. Even the most conservative estimates having Jordan playing 30, Dirk earning 22 and Barnes playing 17 of his 34 minutes at the four. That leaves just 27 minutes for Powell, Kleber, Mejri, and Spalding to split. Powell played 21.2 last season and Mejri earned 12.0, so let the competitions begin.
At this moment, it is safe to assume that Kleber may not be an every night part of the rotation. It is likely a matchup decision between him and Mejri. Against larger more tradition centers, Mejri is the better option for the team on the defensive end of the floor.
Coach Carlisle heaped on the praise of Maxi Kleber during the Dallas Mavericks media day on Sept. 21. The battle between the big men is one of the storylines to follow during training camp. The Mavs have a lot of options and not enough minutes to go around, so stay tuned to see who earns the playing time.
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