Houston Rockets – Team #2: Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks have been one of the most bizarre teams to start the season. Last year they powered their way to 43 wins in 75 games on the back of the league’s most efficient offense and its 18th ranked defense.
The franchise spent this offseason adding defensive help but the belief remained that the Mavericks were going to be an offensive juggernaut. In a Freaky Friday reversal of roles the Mavericks, over the first 13 games, have the 5th best defensive rating and the 22nd best offensive rating.
Part of their issues on offense have to do with the fact that Kristaps Porzingis was still recovering from knee surgery when the season got underway. However, it seems apparent that Luka Doncic is being asked to shoulder too large a load on offense.
Doncic hasn’t been poor to start the season but in a condensed season, the Mavericks need a secondary ball-handler to step up and give Luka some easy looks. Victor Oladipo would fit this role perfectly and he’ll be able to help maintain the team’s surprising early-season defensive fortitude.
A starting lineup that features the quartet of Doncic, Oladipo, Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr is scary. The group can stretch the floor, beat players off the dribble, and has the size and length to be flexible on defense.
With Porzingis’s injury history the Mavericks need an insurance policy if his minutes need to be managed and if he goes out for an extended period of time. The Rockets trade return will feature Dwight Powell, Dorian Finney-Smith, Tyrell Terry, and a future first-round pick.
Powell is the quintessential rim running center and is under contract for the next three seasons. He’s not a game-changer but he’d give the Rockets one of the deepest and most diverse frontcourt rotations between him, DeMarcus Cousins, and Christian Wood.
Dorian Finney-Smith is an excellent rotation piece and is the type of player that the Rockets need dearly. He can defend multiple positions and is a credible 3-point shooter, but most importantly he is cheap.
Finney-Smith is under contract this season and next for a total of $8 million. Even if he’s not in the franchise’s long-term plans he is the type of player that can be flipped in the offseason for a decent return.
Tyrell Terry hasn’t played much this season but he’s an interesting rookie that is under contract for next to nothing. It’s possible that Terry’s defense is so poor that he won’t find consistent minutes in the NBA, but his offensive upside is such that he is worth taking a flyer on.
The Mavericks will have to depart with a future first-round pick but that shouldn’t trouble them much. They have their transformative franchise player in Luka Doncic which means they don’t need to play the lottery because they already won it.
With Doncic in town, the Mavericks should be using their draft picks to build a championship-caliber roster, and getting Oladipo makes them a real contender in the West. It’s possible that Oladipo could walk in the offseason but they’ll have the cap space to extend him an offer if they think that he could be a part of a championship-level core.
In the end, this trade, for the Rockets, is all about saving money and collecting future assets. If the franchise makes a trade like this then it’ll be very clear where the franchise intends to head.
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