The Dallas Mavericks need more Broekhoff.
The Mavericks are not good. They sit in 13th-place in the West, 4.5 games back from the last playoffs spot (currently held by the L.A. Clippers). A solid 17-6 home record has been completely wasted by going a horrendous 4-20 on the road, a record matched only by the tanking Phoenix Suns and ‘bested’ (worsted?) by the hapless Cleveland Cavaliers.
What should their goal be for the rest of the season? The playoffs are drifting further and further away, especially with bench stalwart J.J. Barea out for the season with a torn right Achilles tendon. Before you scoff at the importance of the barely-6-feet tall Barea, consider this:
Mavs with J.J. Barea: 20-18
Mavs without Barea: 0-8
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) January 21, 2019
The Barea Effect is real.
How about tanking? Doing so to keep the top-5 protected pick they traded to the Atlanta Hawks in the Luka Dončić – Trae Young deal sounds like it would make sense, but it would have to be an overly-egregious attempt. In addition to the two teams below them in the West, Dallas has a better-or-equal record than every non-playoff team in the East. If they want to tank, they’d have to play G Leaguers full-time, to stand a chance of making it a worthwhile exercise. And it’s probably not a good idea to do that when you have a player like Dončić on the team anyway.
(For all of the talk of the East’s revival, it’s really just a top-heavy conference. The bottom half still stinks.)
So, in a season that’s become increasingly-listless (the Dennis Smith Jr. nonsense doesn’t help), perhaps the answer is simply – basketball. Take what you have and make the most of it, focus on player development, put your best foot forward and que sera sera.
That’s the cue for more Ryan Broekhoff minutes.
Broekhoff has seen the floor in only 18 of the team’s games so far, averaging just over six minutes and only 2.5 points per game. Given how the Mavericks’ season has gone, you have to wonder why coach Rick Carlisle hasn’t at least given Rowdy more of a shot. There’s nothing to lose, after all.
Broekhoff showed up and showed out against the Philadelphia 76ers a couple weeks ago, finishing with 15 points in just 22 minutes.
He even capped his performance with block on Ben Simmons and a dunk! What more could you ask for?
After the game, Broekhoff said that “Rhythm is the biggest thing in basketball” – he didn’t get the opportunity to build any rhythm at all, not seeing the floor at all for the next five games.
Maybe Carlisle saw this tweet and really bought into the belief, that Rowdy isn’t a basketball player:
Ryan Broekhoff does not look like an NBA player. Pick another job for him. pic.twitter.com/c7gqrPIFtT
— Adam Howes (@Howsito) January 6, 2019
As a Mavericks fan, the logic behind leaving Broekhoff off lies largely in who’s ahead of him in the pecking order. He’s not playing ahead of Harrison Barnes, and it’s fair to say that the Mavs stand to gain more from developing the younger Dorian Finney-Smith, who will hit restricted free agency at the end of the season and could be a solid long-term role player or attractive sign-and-trade bait.
Rowdy, unfortunately, is an older rookie with a contract made more for waiving and less for trading, given the low number. The way things are going, the Mavs might not bother bringing him back next year; Broekhoff’s 2019-20 salary is not guaranteed.
Still, Rowdy has shown in his limited minutes that he does have a place in the NBA. Maximizing the talents and value of every player on the roster should be the goal of every team coaching and front office staff, right? You could certainly do worse than giving minutes to such a consummate professional (watch a few Mavs games; Rowdy is behind only Dwight Powell in bench celebrations).
Come on Rick, make it happen. We got a fever, and the only prescription is more Broekhoff.