Mavericks' sixth man proves Dallas can't trade him in statement win

Dallas Mavericks v Minnesota Timberwolves
Dallas Mavericks v Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages

The Dallas Mavericks secured one of their best wins this season on Sunday, beating the Western Conference's No. 1 seed, the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was a gritty victory for the home squad, with the protagonists going back and forth in the final period before the Mavs took the lead for good with a couple of minutes left on the game clock.

Stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving steered Dallas, showcasing that they are a top duo that no opponent should take lightly. The backcourt partners combined for 69 points and 11 3-pointers to give the Mavs enough juice on offense.

A few role players also had a hand in the win, providing Doncic and Irving with enough support. One of those who did well was Tim Hardaway Jr., the franchise's bet for the Sixth Man of the Year award in the 2023-24 campaign.

Mavericks' sixth man proves Dallas can't trade him in statement win

Hardaway Jr. played the fourth-most minutes (32) for the Mavs and garnered 12 points on a 4-for-13 shooting clip against the Wolves. Despite his inefficient evening, he managed to notch a plus/minus of +14, which was a game-high and tied with Dwight Powell's.

Would the Mavs have still gotten the victory over the team with the second-best record in the league if it hadn't been for the swingman's solid outing? That would be tough to conclude, but he may have shown why the organization should think twice before putting his name on the trade block. 

We've already outlined why Dallas shouldn't trade Hardaway amid speculations about his availability in the market. And his contributions to Dallas' latest win have given more credence to those reasons. While the Luka-Kyrie duo has continued to punish defenses on most nights, THJ's ability to space the floor or take control as a shot creator when either of the stars are on the bench or sidelines has helped the Mavs register a top-10 offense this season.

At this point of the campaign, the former first-round pick is averaging 17.3 points per game, with only Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Atlanta Hawks averaging more as primarily a reserve. 

On the Mavs, he is the third-leading scorer and the only other player aside from Doncic and Irving putting up more than 10.3 markers per contest. So, if Dallas decides to ship Hardaway Jr. to another home, it could be hard-pressed to replace his scoring production.

Perhaps it would be a different story if the front office found a trade using a package centered around the veteran bucket-getter that would drastically improve the team's areas of weaknesses, such as defense and rebounding. 

If that's not the case, then the Mavs should just hold on to Hardaway Jr. Otherwise, they will have to rely too much on Doncic and Irving to carry the scoring load. That's not exactly a sustainable plan, especially once the postseason comes.

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