Mavericks dodged a bullet by not trading for 'overpaid' former No. 1 pick

Dallas Mavericks v Portland Trail Blazers
Dallas Mavericks v Portland Trail Blazers / Amanda Loman/GettyImages

In the past offseason, it was evident that the Dallas Mavericks needed an upgrade at the center position. They appeared to have the opportunity to bring in former No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, but the Phoenix Suns reportedly balked at the Mavs' underwhelming trade offer.

Fast forward months later, Dallas has seemingly found two answers to its problems after drafting Dereck Lively II and completing a midseason trade for Daniel Gafford, whose insertion into the starting lineup has helped transform the team's defense from awful to elite.

As for Ayton, he found an opportunity to prove himself after the Suns shipped him to the Portland Trail Blazers. However, his production for one of the worst squads in the Western Conference leaves much to be desired.

Dallas Mavericks dodged a bullet by not trading for Deandre Ayton

HoopsHype recently released a list of the most overpaid NBA players this season, and Ayton made the cut.

The analysis was established by comparing the players' actual salaries with how much they should be paid based on their production using the website's proprietary stat (the HoopsHype Global Rating), the number of games they have appeared in, and their respective team's success.

A look at Ayton's stats might suggest that he has been having a decent season, as he is averaging 16.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. But he is expected to play better, given that he has all the opportunity to break out suiting up for a cellar-dwelling squad.

Instead, the 25-year-old Blazers big man isn't doing anything the NBA world hasn't seen before from him.

Moreover, he hasn't done anything to get rid of the questions about his motor and motivation. Ayton even once used the fact that he had to sleep on an air mattress as an excuse for his struggles, which is another reason the Mavs caught a massive break not trading for him.

Would he be performing differently if he were playing alongside Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving and under coach Jason Kidd? Probably. 

Is Ayton the more talented player than Lively II, Gafford, and the other members of Dallas' big man platoon? He wouldn't be drafted two spots ahead of Doncic in 2018 if there were doubts about his skills or potential.

However, the Mavs are better off not having to entrust their season to a volatile $32.5-million center, especially with the team finding gems at that position who can contribute more consistently and have much lower price tags.

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