Dallas Mavericks: 30 greatest players in franchise history

By Ben Beecken
DALLAS - APRIL 7: Dirk Nowitzki #41 and Michael Finley #4 of the Dallas Mavericks. Copyright 2005 NBAE (Photo By Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
DALLAS - APRIL 7: Dirk Nowitzki #41 and Michael Finley #4 of the Dallas Mavericks. Copyright 2005 NBAE (Photo By Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley, Steve Nash
DALLAS – APRIL 23: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates with teammates Steve Nash #13 and Michael Finley #4. (Photo by: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Despite a rough first 20 years of existence, the Dallas Mavericks have an impressive list of all-time greats that have worn their jersey.

It wasn’t until the Dallas Mavericks franchise was purchased by Mark Cuban in 2000 that the they were a truly relevant NBA team. And not surprisingly, this list of the top-30 players to ever suit up for the Mavericks leans heavily on players from the 21st century.

In the 20 years prior to Cuban’s purchase, the Mavs had only been to the playoffs six times and not since 1990. They had only one season with more than 45 wins — a 47-win campaign in 1989-90 that ended with a loss in the first round of the playoffs.

Coinciding with Cuban taking over in Dallas was the arrival of German seven-footer Dirk Nowitzki. Future hall of fame coach Don Nelson was already there. Holdovers such as Michael Finley and Steve Nash were already there, too.

The Mavericks won 40 games in 1999-2000 led by Nash, Nowitzki Finley. After Cuban bought the team in January, the team began to fill in the fringes of the roster with more talent. Dallas became a fixture in the Western Conference Playoffs in the 2000s, as Nowitzki became arguably the greatest European player in NBA history.

All that said, there were a few Mavericks NBA All-Stars from the late 1980s and early 1990s that indeed made it into the top-30.

Here are our guidelines for the exercise:

  • We only considered player’s years in a Mavericks uniform. Steve Nash and Vince Carter would rank higher on lists for the Phoenix Suns and the Toronto Raptors/the then-New Jersey Nets, respectively, but spent limited time in Dallas.
  • Team success and longevity matter. Some players on this list were great for short periods of time, or maybe didn’t even average starter’s minutes in the games they played, but they were extremely effective. Bonus points for playing on playoff teams and championship squads, too.

Okay. Let’s get after it.

. . Center. Brandan Wright. 30. 79

  • Played four seasons with the Mavericks (2011-2014)
  • Averaged 8.3 points, four rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game

It may be a bit of a surprise to some folks that Brandan Wright made it on to this list; the big man only averaged 17.8 minutes per game over his three-plus seasons with the Mavericks.

But Wright was an advanced stats darling in Big D, and was extremely effective when he did get playing time.

Wright was the eighth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the then-Charlotte Bobcats, but was traded to the Golden State Warriors on draft night for Jason Richardson. He spent two-plus years in the Bay Area, but missed the entire 2009-10 campaign due to a shoulder injury.

After a trade to the then-New Jersey Nets for the balance of the 2010-11 season, Wright signed in Dallas in 2011 and appeared in 49 games. The following year, Wright played in 64 games and started 16, while averaging 18 minutes per contest.

In 2011-12, that grew to 18.6 minutes per game. Despite limited playing time, Wright managed to average 8.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game from 2012 to 2014 with the Mavericks. He was a key piece of the 49-win team that pushed the San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.

Wright’s paint presence and block rate was a big part of his value, and he was good enough on the glass and on both sides of the ball in the pick-and-roll. He was always a valuable contributor in that capacity.

Somewhat surprisingly, he actually holds the best Win Shares per 48 minutes mark of any player in Mavericks history, managing an astounding .213. For comparison, Dirk Nowitzki is second at .196, and there is another sizable gap between Dirk and the players below him.

While Wright’s impact was relatively limited in terms of overall minutes played over parts of fours seasons in Dallas, he had an enormously positive effect on the game when he was on the floor.