The Dallas Mavericks received some crushing news on Dec. 15 as it was announced that Maxi Kleber tore his hamstring at practice on Tuesday. The team announced that he would be out indefinitely, and they were still determining the best way to treat the injury. Shams Charania put a six-to-eight-week timetable on Kleber’s return.
Kleber is a key piece for the Mavs because he can stretch the floor, defend on the perimeter, and protect the rim. He is head coach Jason Kidd’s preferred option to close games at the five, and the Mavericks slipped to just 1-5 on the season without Maxi after Wednesday’s loss to the Cavaliers.
Kleber will be out until at least February because of this injury, and it will likely be longer. How will his absence impact the Mavericks? Here is a closer look.
Why Maxi Kleber's injury is a massive blow for the Dallas Mavericks
Kleber is the glue that holds the Mavs big man rotation together. Dwight Powell brings energy and gives Luka Doncic a lob target, but he struggles on the defensive end, especially at rebounding and protecting the rim. Christian Wood improves the team’s offense, but his defensive issues are well-documented. Davis Bertans has passed JaVale McGee in the rotation, but he is strictly a floor spacer with defensive issues of his own. Kleber was the defensive ace that made the group work.
The Mavs have built their identity around their defense under head coach Jason Kidd, but they figure to struggle on that end without Kleber. Take Wednesday’s game against the Cavaliers as an example. Dallas struggled to protect the rim, and they had few answers for Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley inside. Kleber would have been a difference-maker, but the 6’10 big man is out for an extended period.
The Dallas Mavericks have to play Christian Wood and try to outscore the opposition. Their defense is not going to be good enough without Maxi Kleber to win any other way. Can C-Wood prove he is worthy of 35 minutes per game? Does he score and rebound enough to keep the Mavs afloat?
The Mavericks are just 1-5 without Kleber right now, and 14-14 on the season. With the 6’10 big man out for an extended period, they must improve without him, or Dallas is headed for the lottery. Can they do it? Never count out Luka Doncic, and this injury could push the Mavs to make a trade sooner rather than later. Stay tuned to see how it all shakes out.