Mavericks' last minute trades could have greater impact than initially thought

The moves Dallas made at the deadline have been one of the biggest reasons for their late-season success.
P.J. Washington, Daniel Gafford, Dallas Mavericks
P.J. Washington, Daniel Gafford, Dallas Mavericks / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

What was once considered a lost season for the Dallas Mavericks has turned into yet another promising one in the Luka Doncic era. Leading up to the February trade deadline, the Mavs were sitting only a few games over .500 at 26-23 and not in the playoff picture. A lot of conversations were being had about whether or not Kyrie Irving was actually a good long-term fit with Luka.

The front office knew changes would need to be made in order to remake this team into a playoff contender before the regular season ended in April. But even after they made some solid moves at the deadline, many thought that Dallas was just slapping a band-aid on a bullet wound, and that this team still needed a lot more work before it would become a perennial Western Conference contender.

As we are seeing now, that has not been the case. The Mavericks' acquisitions of P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford have turned out to be massive successes, and they propelled this team to a fifth-place finish in the standings, nearly even earning them home court in the playoffs in what is widely considered an extremely deep and competitive Western Conference.

These two guys and their talents do not look to be simple one-hit wonders, either. Both have provided such an immediate and major impact that it is reasonable to think their effect on the Mavs could be long-lasting.

P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford have filled major roster holes

What both Washington and Gafford have done is fill spots on this roster where impact players were previously lacking. Coming over from the Charlotte Hornets, P.J. is an all-in-one big wing that can affect the game in a variety of ways. His ability to shoot the three ball, drive on closeouts and defend multiple positions has been invaluable for this team, and it should be no surprise that he earned his way into the starting lineup.

Gafford's usefulness has been different, but in no way less significant than Washington's. A physical presence on the interior, Daniel flusters opponents by deterring and blocking shots at the rim, while also functioning as an extremely effective rim runner and lob threat. Luka Doncic has obviously been thrilled to have Gafford around to throw the ball up to.

Both of these guys have been such huge game-changers for Dallas in freeing them up to play certain ways and giving them high-level options in their rotation. Fans can now truly feel like Luka has plenty of help around him, and not just in the form of a big name 'star' player.

In the end, that may be for the best. As we are seeing right now with the Phoenix Suns, trying to assemble a team with a bunch of the biggest names that do not necessarily work well together is a recipe for limiting your ceiling. The Mavericks' method of finding players that fit perfectly with their franchise player is a far better approach, and P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford are proof of that.