The Dallas Mavericks have a roster full of talented guys and some of them aren’t getting the minutes they should. How do the Mavs correct this issue?
Over the past three games, the Dallas Mavericks have seen what Jalen Brunson is capable of when he can get on the court. After a DNP-CD against the Portland Trail Blazers on December 4th, Brunson turned in a nice showing off the bench during a blowout loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on the 5th.
The injury to Dennis Smith Jr. forced Rick Carlisle to make a bit of a change to the starting lineup and, unlike before when he plugged Dorian Finney-Smith in for whoever was out, Carlisle elected to go with a second ball-handler in Brunson. Brunson had mostly fallen out of the rotation since the return of Devin Harris, but this gave him an opportunity to show what he is capable of.
He did just that.
In the start against the Houston Rockets, Brunson went 7-9 from the field with 14 points, 3 assists, 3 steals and only 2 turnovers. Just to prove that he was not a one-hit wonder, Brunson followed that performance up with another 7-9 shooting night, this time adding a three-pointer as well. He ended with 17 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and only one turnover, resulting in a +16 plus-minus.
The reason this showing is so remarkable is because before this week, Brunson was the 11th man on the roster. Brunson already has three DNP’s this year and eight other games in which he got fewer than 10 minutes of game time. Despite a fairly limited workload on the court, he has been efficient and poised for being a rookie.
If I were to place the Mavs bench players in order of relevance to the team, it would be as follows: Dorian Finney-Smith, J.J. Barea, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, Devin Harris, Jalen Brunson, Ryan Broekhoff, Salah Mejri and Ray Spalding. Of those bench guys, Dodo averages about 27 minutes of game time, J.J. just a little under 20, 18.5 for Maxi, 16.7 for Dwight, 15 for Devin, 14 for Brunson and 6 or fewer for Mejri, Broekhoff and Spalding.
Now that Dirk Nowitzki is back, the Mavs have to figure out yet another plan. J.J. Barea is set to be back soon which would give the Mavs a full unit for the first time all year. This would mean someone would need to move down to the G-League, which probably means Ryan Broekhoff. Let’s look at the reputation of these bench players.