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Mavericks: Nicolo Melli could be Dallas’ secret weapon in the playoffs

Dallas Mavericks Nicolo Melli Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Mavericks Nicolo Melli Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
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Dallas Mavericks, Nicolo Melli
Dallas Mavericks Nicolo Melli Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Nicolo Melli offers the Mavericks more lineup flexibility

The Mavericks’ best lineup so far has been when they feature Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber in the frontcourt. This combination allows Dallas to play a five-out set meaning that every single player on the floor is a 3-point threat. Playing five-out results in maximum spacing and no weaknesses on offense.

Adding Nicolo Melli means that the Mavericks could play five-out even if the Zinger or Kleber has to miss a game. More importantly, having Melli means that if needed, Dallas could play five shooters throughout the entirety of a game without sacrificing any size.

This versatility will be especially important in the playoffs when teams buckle down on defense, sometimes ignoring certain players to ensure that the opponent’s stars have to work as hard as possible to get their points. It would be no surprise to see defenders start ignoring WCS and Dwight Powell on offense as the playoffs start.

In the case that defenses can stall the Mavericks offense by shading off of WCS or Powell and sending help at Luka and KP, subbing in Melli could make the difference in a playoff win.

Here, Luka gets a screen from Kleber and starts probing into the paint. The other perimeter defenders for the Jazz are glued to their men in fear of allowing an open three. As Luka starts carving his way deeper in the paint, Rudy Gobert cannot help but shade towards the rim. As a result, Luka finds a wide-open Melli in the corner.

Had WCS or Powell been on the floor in place of Kleber or Melli, Gobert would have already been glued to the paint long before Luka began his drive. In the playoffs, when every single point matters, the Dallas Mavericks will need the spacing that Melli can provide to open up the floor for their stars and prevent the offense from stagnating.

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