Grade the Trade: Mavericks land elite defender in mock blockbuster trade

Dallas Mavericks v Brooklyn Nets
Dallas Mavericks v Brooklyn Nets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages
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Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic, Ben Simmons
Dallas Mavericks v Brooklyn Nets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Grading the trade for the Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks come out of this trade with a lot of flexibility.

Tim Hardaway Jr. rekindled his pre-injury productivity that helped him shine as one of the lone bright spots on a team that lacked shot creation and consistent spot-up shooting last season.

However, his inclusion on this current Mavericks team is more of a luxury given the addition of Seth Curry as well as Jaden Hardy’s potential increased role and development.

For the Mavericks to come out of this trade with two future first-round picks in which they can choose to wheel and deal whenever they please in the ensuing trade deadlines and offseasons to come, would be an absolute win.

Not to mention the addition of Simmons, who only has two years left on his contract if he ends up fitting the mold of the stereotypical player on a steep decline because of injuries.

But the inverse scenario is the most intriguing aspect of this trade. That is if Simmons pans out in Dallas.

It’s more likely for this to occur if the Mavericks were to somehow pull off this trade before training camp kicks off in early October because there remains fringe hope Ben Simmons can blossom back into the player that he was in Philadelphia.

But even if Simmons becomes a disgruntled asset mid-season and is shipped to Dallas in less-than-ideal circumstances, it begs the question: How good could the Mavericks be if a revitalized Simmons were to start at center?

When Simmons is at his best, he is the multi-positional ‘splashy’ defender that the Mavericks haven’t had in ages. Not only could he serve as a rim protector by maintaining the dunker spot, effectively tagging the roller, and using his verticality and 6-foot-10 frame to contest shots at the rim, but he can also be extremely effective in all other facets of defense.

Simmons is excellent in pick-and-roll coverage because he has the mobility, discipline, and lateral quickness to switch onto much smaller ball handlers and wings. Couple that with his 7-foot wingspan, and you have a player in Simmons that epitomizes what a true versatile chess piece on defense can look like in the modern NBA. He’s even a tantalizing off-ball defender, as he navigates screens with ease en route to picking off passing lanes.

With 33 career triple-doubles, Simmons has shown the ability to be one of the more dynamic players in the NBA, even averaging 6.1 rebounds per game last year with the Brooklyn Nets, despite only averaging minutes 26.3 minutes per game last season.

Simmons’ defensive game is well documented, but offensively, he struggled mightily last year coming off of a 2021-22 season in which he sat out. He looked unconfident in his abilities to finish around the rim and often passed out of opportunities that he would have usually used to try and score or get fouled on.

Simmons will at least need to suffice as a rim runner in the short roll and will need to turn the ball over less if he wishes to be able to be the Mavericks starting center, especially given his abysmal shooting despite countless offseason workout videos saying otherwise.

While the more realistic outcome would be for Dallas to take back a disgruntled asset in Simmons who is a plug-and-play defender occasionally off the bench, the upside is worth it.

Potential starting lineup: Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, Josh Green, Grant Williams, Ben Simmons

The Mavs would also lose some big-man depth in Richaun Holmes if Simmons doesn’t work out whatsoever, but Holmes’ production is replaceable despite his presence as a good rim roller and decent consistency in the rebounding department.

If Simmons works out it makes Holmes’ inclusion in the deal almost irrelevant, and as long as Seth Curry and Jaden Hardy can compensate for most of Tim Hardaway Jr.’s production, the loss of the three outgoing Mavericks in this trade won’t burden Dallas too terribly at all.

The Mavericks are taking a big risk in adding Simmons given how drastically up and down the last few seasons have been for him, but the rest of the deal is extremely low risk for them and largely beneficial, lending them an A- in this mock trade.

Increase flexibility a ton. Off-chance Ben Simmons works out. Dallas Mavericks. Grade for Mavs/Simmons trade. A-