Two seasons ago, when the Dallas Mavericks made their improbable run to the Western Conference finals, it was because of their defense. Obviously, the offense was great with Luka Doncic at the helm, but they surpassed their ceiling because they were a better defensive team than most anticipated.
This past year, they weren’t. Dallas took a major step back on the defensive side of the ball, and the results showed it, as they failed to even make the Play-In Tournament.
But they’ve done their best to address those defensive needs this summer. They traded for Richaun Holmes, drafted Olivier-Maxence Proser and Dereck Lively II, and completed a sign-and-trade for Grant Williams.
The latter of those four players may be the most important (at least for right now), as Williams has proven to be an impressive defender throughout his career thus far with the Boston Celtics.
Williams earned the nickname “Batman” for his ability to defend Nikola Jokic, and he’s had success against Joel Embiid, too, proving that he can bang down low with bigger centers.
But at the same time, Williams is able to get out on the perimeter a bit, keeping up with quicker guards when he needs to. This versatility will be crucial for the Mavericks.
Grant Williams altercation with Jimmy Butler displays the sort of fight Mavericks fans should desire
And in addition to his defensive capabilities, Williams plays with a constant fire and intensity that should help spark Dallas’ success on that side of the ball.
Just this past year, during the Celtics’ playoff run, Williams got into an altercation with Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler in the Eastern Conference finals. And while most saw this as a foolish decision, the truth was, Boston needed a spark.
At the time, the Celtics were getting completely punked, and down the stretch of that game, Williams was the only Celtic who did anything. In the final eight minutes of the contest, the Celtics only made three field goals.
All three buckets were from Williams.
"We’re playing that game, I think we’re up by like eight. I’m playing well. Jimmy says like ‘hell no’, he ain’t here. So I made a three and I said hell no mother(expletive), I’m here. I said that to him, barking, you know because I’m not going to let him (do that). I’m always going to respond."- Grant Williams, Run Your Race podcast
Williams felt compelled to battle back, as the Celtics had shown very little fight up to that point in the series.
"The next play, Jimmy, boom boom, stop, pivot, and-one. And he said, ‘I’m here, too, mother(expletive). So, I’m like, I don’t give an (expletive). We were going back and forth because like me, I’m not backing down. That’s kind of like what we were missing in that series. They were punking us the entire time."- Grant Williams, Run Your Race podc
Celtics fans were quick to point fingers at Williams for the game, as Butler went off, but they should have been blaming the rest of the team.
Williams was the only one who showed up in the final minutes.
That’s who the Mavericks can expect to show up to their team. A guy who fights.