Everything seems to be trending upward in Dallas. The Dallas Mavericks have now won their first two games of their seven-game homestand. Players are beginning to return from injury. And, the once dreadful defense has steadily improved over the past few weeks.
While the Mavs are known for their lethal offense, they rank seventh in defensive rating since December 6. Although the defense has improved, the offense has taken a slight dip. Over the last month, Dallas ranks 16th in offensive rating.
Although the Mavericks seem to be figuring it out on the defensive end, the offense could use a slight adjustment. The recent inclusion of Kyrie Irving back into the lineup will help, but the Mavericks are too reliant on the star pairing of Luka Doncic and Irving.
5 Potential trade targets from the Lakers' downfall for the Dallas Mavericks
Tim Hardaway Jr. ranks third on the team in scoring, and Derrick Jones Jr., Josh Green, and Dante Exum have performed admirably of late. Nevertheless, a few more quality pieces would push the Mavs into contender status.
Unlike Dallas, not every team in the West is experiencing success. News of the Los Angeles Lakers' sudden downfall has made rounds in the NBA. After an In-Season Tournament Championship just a month ago, things have trended downward in Southern California.
It's looking like the perfect opportunity for Dallas to take advantage of. The Lakers are reeling, losers of four straight and nine of their past 11. A disconnect between head coach Darvin Ham and the players is in full effect. With Los Angeles in disarray, five Lakers will be identified below as trade targets for the Mavericks.
5. Jaxson Hayes
A backup big should be a priority of the Dallas front office. Behind talented rookie Dereck Lively II, the Mavericks are quite thin. Center Dwight Powell is serviceable, but at this point in his career, he's better suited for a third-string role.
Adding Jaxson Hayes to the center platoon would be a quality, low-key addition. Although Hayes isn't a clear upgrade over Powell, he's a 7-foot big with a lottery-pedigree.
Two seasons ago, in New Orleans, Hayes averaged 9.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks while shooting 61.6 percent from the floor. Over the past two seasons, his impact has lessened, but he's still just 23 years old.
This season, the former Longhorn is averaging career lows across the board. His fit in Los Angeles is iffy at best. And he's recently found himself outside of the rotation. The Lakers lack spacing and Hayes is at his best in a free-flowing offense with room to operate.
He works best as a rim-runner, alike Lively II. Hayes has a unique combination of size and athleticism. Playing alongside Doncic would do wonders for his game. Additionally, Hayes would likely suit up next to Grant Williams with the reserve unit. While he's not shooting it like he did to begin the year, Williams is still a capable floor-spacer.
All in all, Hayes is likely one of the easiest Lakers to poach. Already out of the rotation, a new home might come sooner rather than later for the former eighth overall pick.