4. Dud- Maxi Kleber
Maxi Kleber was tasked with a pretty tall order defensively last night, as the Mavericks opted to match the Nets’ small ball lineups with their own smaller lineups. Kleber played 28 minutes and was largely responsible for guarding Ben Simmons or one of the Nets’ bigger wings like Dorian Finney-Smith or Royce O’Neale.
The Mavericks are switching a lot more this year too and playing some matchup zone, so Kleber inevitably had to guard the perimeter a decent amount last night and he got beat off the dribble quite a few times by the likes of Cam Thomas and other Brooklyn guards.
Maxi still played pretty stout interior help defense and did a good job mirroring Simmons when he was in the game, but he’s starting to show signs that he may not be as dynamic as he once was at guarding the perimeter as he’s set to turn 32-years-old this upcoming January. Maxi has also looked really unconfident offensively to start the season, and he didn’t register a single basket in last night's game as he went 0-3 from the field.
Kleber obviously doesn’t need to fill up the box score every game, but he at least needs to stay a consistent and assertive threat from outside if the Mavericks are going to be able to continue to play him in 5-out and small-ball lineups this year.
He had a rough preseason, and hopefully he can string together some solid performances going forward.