4 Dallas Mavericks players who barely survived the NBA trade deadline

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3. Maxi Kleber

Maxi Kleber has not benefited from the best injury luck over his past two seasons in Dallas. The 32-year-old hybrid big man missed 35 consecutive games earlier this season with a dislocated pinky toe, but has surprisingly taken ahold of a spot in the Mavericks rotation upon returning. Kleber is once again looking like the athletic help-side shot blocker who can also defend on the perimeter for Dallas, and it's a huge testament to his hard work during his injury recovery process.

At the start of the season Kleber looked like a fringe NBA player at points, as his athleticism on the defensive end seemed to have depreciated and he looked like he had no confidence in his offensive game whatsoever. Many Mavericks' fans thought that Kleber would be completely eclipsed in Dallas' rotation or traded somewhere else before the deadline, but Kleber has become an integral component to Dallas' rotation upon his return from injury despite being on a minutes restriction at the start of his return to action.

In six games thus far during the month of February, Kleber is having by far his best month of the season, as he's averaging 10.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. Kleber has gotten an increase in minutes due to Dereck Lively II's injury recently, but now that the Mavericks have traded for Daniel Gafford, Kleber is likely to assume the backup power forward spot when Lively II returns from injury.

Kleber came off the bench and played some minutes at the four next to Gafford in Dallas' most recent victory over the Washington Wizards, as it's not unlikely that the tandem of Kleber-Gafford and Kleber-Lively II will see a decent amount of run this season in Dallas' lineup combinations down the stretch. With the Mavericks getting more versatile defensively in the front-court at the trade deadline, it gives them a lot more flexibility to not over extend Kleber's minutes as the lone big on the floor, so hopefully Kleber will be best optimized from a health perspective going forward.

While Kleber has just recently started shooting better and showcased the ability to attack closeouts in certain scenarios in the last handful of games, his defensive prowess upon his return from injury is what kept him on Dallas' roster after the trade deadline passed, and now he's poised for a significant role on this Mavericks team as they head toward the All-Star break.