On Monday, the Dallas Mavericks played the New Orleans Pelicans to wrap up their seven-game homestand. After a gut-wrenching loss to the Pelicans previously, the Mavericks came out with intensity and won 125-120.
Behind Kyrie Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr., the Mavericks would dominate when it mattered most. The two combined for 83 points and became just the second Mavericks duo to both finish with over 40 points in the same game. After a 41-point night, Hardaway Jr's. trade-ability came into question and now could be the best time for the Mavericks to ship him out.
Following Hardaway Jr. and Irving's performance, rookie Dereck Lively II had a huge performance after a five-game absence. His seven offensive rebounds came in clutch down the stretch, and instantly, fans could feel Lively II's presence when on the court.
Dallas Mavericks veteran could be key to unlocking rookie's potential
Another Maverick who recently came back from injury was Maxi Kleber. Kleber played for the first time on Saturday in over two months. Despite Kleber not having the best offensive game against the Pelicans, he performed well on the defensive end. Kleber recorded two blocks for the first time since March 23, 2023.
Since Kleber's two-month absence, many fans speculated what the Mavericks lineup would look like with Kleber healthy. Many wondered how he would pair alongside Lively II and if he could be the answer to maximizing the 19-year-old's potential.
Kleber may not be the missing piece for the Mavericks starting lineup, but alongside Lively II, he could unlock a lot of lineups for the Mavericks. Having a stretch four like Kleber could expand the rookie's defensive potential and boost his presence on the court.
When both were on the floor in Monday's game, Lively II's rebounding and defense were maximized. Kleber could be a direct correlation to how well Lively II played against the Pelicans.
At this point in Kleber's career, it would be a pipedream to think he can return to his 2022 self. However, if he can be half of what he was just two years ago, this could unlock a lot for Jason Kidd and the Mavericks.
The Dallas Mavericks' next game will be against the Los Angeles Lakers on the road. A lot of eyes will be on Maxi Kleber and Dereck Lively II, as this game will be on ABC. For more updates on Mavericks basketball, stay plugged in.