Dallas Mavericks rookie Ray Spalding might be off a lot of fans’ radar because he’s playing in the G-League. But they won’t be able to ignore him for long.
Even the biggest Dallas Mavericks fans may have forgotten about Ray Spalding. It is fine if you did. The Mavericks stashed him on their G-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, to start the season.
That had nothing to do with Spalding’s talent, though. It had more to do with a crowded frontcourt that includes DeAndre Jordan, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, and (eventually) Dirk Nowitzki. That’s a difficult rotation to crack with a team that plays with two and sometimes even three point guards on the floor.
That’s not to say that Ray Spalding isn’t a project. He only averaged eight points and six rebounds per game during his three years at Louisville. But he came on strong in his final season there, averaging 12 points and almost nine rebounds per game. He protected the rim well, too, averaging almost two blocks per game.
Spalding is tall and long, but athletic. He is the perfect combination for a big man in a post-Warriors NBA.
He doesn’t stretch the floor, however. At least not yet. It’s possible that’s one of the reasons the Mavs assigned him to the Legends. Spalding shot 24 percent from behind the arc in college.
There’s reason to be optimistic, though. Spalding only shot 25 3-pointers in three seasons at Louisville. He made six. That’s a small sample size. Through three games with the Legends, Spalding has already attempted ten 3-pointers, making four.
The rookie plays impressive defense. He knows where to be on fast breaks and is a pesky defender in the post. If Spalding can find a reliable shot from deep, he will be versatile enough to earn a rotation spot with the Mavericks.
Spalding reminds me a lot of Dwight Powell, who also spent some time with the Legends. The rookie, however, will develop into a solid rotation player a lot sooner than Powell did. If he continues to improve this season, the Mavericks gain some flexibility in dealing with an injury to Powell, not to mention including him in a potential trade.
Bottom-line is in Spalding, the Dallas Mavericks have a handy insurance plan to deal with any sort of absence from Powell.