Dallas Mavericks hot take: Wes Matthews is the right starter
By Kohl Rast
There are a lot of Dallas Mavericks fans who believe that Dorian Finney-Smith should be starting over Wesley Matthews. I used to be one of them. I believe I was wrong.
The Dallas Mavericks have rolled out the same starting lineup in 10 of the 14 contests so far. That lineup consists of Dennis Smith Jr., Luka Doncic, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes and DeAndre Jordan. Luka and DeAndre are the only two of those five who have played in all 14 games to this point.
As of now, Wes has missed only one game this season. When he was out (and when Harrison Barnes was out), Dorian Finney-Smith filled in and did so in impressive fashion. Dodo has been a sight for sore eyes this season as one of the most important pieces to the Mavs rotation. Not only has he been shooting the ball at an impressive clip, he has also been arguably the best defender on the team.
Wesley Matthews has not been quite what we hoped he would when he came to Dallas. His field goal and three-point percentages are both better this year than they have been in the past three, but they still haven’t reached the rate he was shooting at in Portland. He is still a solid defender, but not what he once was.
So this must beg the question, why is he the right starter instead of Dodo? Well, there are a few different reasons.
Like it or not, when Wesley Matthews shoots the ball in rhythm, he is probably the best shooter on the team. The reason he hasn’t shown that lately (or really at all since coming to Dallas) is because his shot quality and shot choice is not good. Last year, it made some sense for Wes to shoot bad shots because the Mavs weren’t going to win most nights anyway. Now, it’s different.
The Mavs have Luka, Dennis, Barnes and DJ to step up the offensive numbers this year. Shot selection is no longer a limited option and Matthews can be more picky with his shots. When he takes the time to catch and shoot as opposed to trying these step-back, fadeaway jumpers, he can connect at a high rate. Dodo is shooting well but he doesn’t have the career numbers.
Dorian Finney-Smith has become a key player off the bench for Dallas. This Dallas bench has been one to be reckoned with this season. J.J. Barea, Devin Harris, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson have all been key players to the Mavs rotation night in and night out. Barea and Powell have been the key offensive contributors while the rest shored up the defense.
I don’t want to mess up the rhythm this unit has gotten. These guys know how to play together and they know what to do and when to do it. It would not make any sense to ruin a good thing just because we aren’t pleased with the way one starter is playing. Besides, most of the issues that Matthews had early on have resolved themselves.
This may not be the best way of looking at things, but the more Wes is on the court, the more other teams can see him and think about trading for him. Even though he has not been the favorite player amongst the Mavs fans, Wes hasn’t been too bad for Dallas. He may not be living up to his contract, but he is a more than serviceable starter.
The trade market is quiet this early in the year, but as things pick up, there will be some interest in Wesley Matthews. What will matter at that point is just what kind of deal the Mavs could get in return for the sharpshooter.
I like Wesley Matthews and think he serves an important purpose to this team. Dorian Finney-Smith has played some great basketball this year, but he is best served as the backup while Wes remains in the starting lineup.