The Dallas Mavericks went into the offseason with a plan and clearly executed it well. A season ago, the Mavs finished with a bottom-10 defensive unit, after fielding a top-10 unit in the 2021-22 season.
This offseason, the Mavs added Dereck Lively II and Olivier-Maxence Prosper in the draft, two defense-first players. Lively II averaged 2.4 blocks per game in his lone season playing for the Blue Devils, while O-Max projects as a defender capable of guarding up to three positions in the NBA.
Once free agency began, Dallas set its sights on adding additional defensive-minded players to spark their lackluster defense. The Mavs lured Celtics forward Grant Williams to Dallas, acquiring him via sign-and-trade at the beginning of free agency. Like Prosper, Williams is capable of defending multiple positions.
Later in the offseason, the Mavs took a swing on Dante Exum. The former fifth-overall draft pick was projected to be an above-average defender as soon as he stepped on the court. However, Exum's career was marred by injuries, and he was out of the league by the time he turned 25.
Now, Exum returns to the NBA with an improved offensive game to go along with his great athleticism and jumbo-sized guard frame. Exum projects to be one of the Mavs' best perimeter defenders.
Although Dallas has added multiple differencemakers on defense this offseason, there's still room for more. The Mavericks will start Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, two all-world offensive players who aren't known for defense. With Tim Hardaway Jr. likely playing a large role again, due to his floor-stretching ability, the Mavs still need role players to supplement their subpar defenders.
Here comes Toronto Raptor OG Anunoby. Although far from a typical role player, Anunoby is the proverbial 3-and-D player, a coveted archetype in the NBA today. A player capable of knocking down threes, while locking down perimeter players on the less glamorous end.
Anunoby's name has been in trade rumors for quite some time now. Multiple teams have monitored the 3-and-D wing since the beginning of last season. Earlier in the year, it was reported that Anunoby was seeking a bigger role, whether it be in Toronto or somewhere else.
The Mavericks may not be able to provide Anunoby with a bigger role than he currently has in Toronto, but he'll certainly play more than 30-35 minutes per game as the best perimeter defender on the roster, while also assuming a tertiary playmaking role.
Dallas may not necessarily be in the market for a pseudo-third-star, like Anunoby, but throughout the offseason, the Mavs have certainly inquired about multiple players.
Next, in the article, the trade will be graded for both sides and will be discussed as to why or why not the Mavericks should make this move.