10 Biggest early-season surprises for the Dallas Mavericks

Nov 1, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) and Dallas Mavericks
Nov 1, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) and Dallas Mavericks / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
7 of 10

4. Maxi Kleber's struggles

When Maxi Kleber came to Dallas from Bayern Munich in 2017, the then 25-year-old big man brought a very surprising spark of athleticism and defense to an older roster that sorely needed it. Not many Mavericks fans could’ve imagined that the second Wurzburg, Germany, product in team history would still be on the team six seasons later though as he is in his seventh NBA season.

Kleber has displayed a willingness to adapt to whatever role the team needs and has played selflessly on both ends of the court throughout his tenure in Dallas. Kleber has long been coveted for his ability to switch onto wings and guards on the perimeter defensively, but that along with his shooting are skills that seem to be depreciating greatly ever since Kleber tore his hamstring in December of 2022. 

Maxi Kleber has been a good role player, but many Mavs fans would also argue that the team extended him past his limits the last few seasons, as lack of substantial big-man depth on the roster has prompted him to average over at least 24.6 minutes per game in each of the last four seasons. Kleber also was an integral piece to the Mavericks' defense in their 2022 Western Conference Finals run and emptied the tank for Dallas in three taxing playoff rounds.

Whether we should attribute Kleber’s recent injury history and struggles this season to being ran into the ground by Dallas’ coaching staff the past few seasons is up for debate. However, the 31-year-old big man has looked unconfident in all facets offensively.

Kleber rarely rolls hard enough to inflict a presence on the rim offensively anymore like he was able to on occasion the past few seasons, and his ability to stretch the floor by shooting the three-ball is starting to diminish as he’s shot below 35 percent from distance in each of the last two seasons and has struggled early on. If Kleber continues to keep getting injured or can’t get back on track, his time in Dallas may be coming to a close soon.