What to expect from Ryan Broekhoff's debut NBA season
Another NBA season, another new Aussie joining the Association. Welcome to the big league, Ryan Broekhoff!
A few years after slogging at the 2015 Summer League, the man they call Rowdy finally has his shot in the NBA. He joins a Dallas Mavericks team that is still in a rebuild, albeit one that appears to be picking up momentum after a decent first season for guard Dennis Smith Jr., and the addition of European teen sensation Luka Dončić in the latest NBA Draft.
Truth be told, with all the hype surrounding the team's young guards, and the DeAndre Jordan signing, Broekhoff's addition hasn't really made much of a blip on the radar. That said, with the team short on wing depth and lacking dead-eye shooters, Rowdy should have every chance to carve out a place for himself in fans' hearts.
50% from deep
Let's talk about the shooting first. Broekhoff drained a ridiculous 50.6% of his 3-pointers last season with Lokomotiv Kuban in the EuroCup, on just over five attempts a game. This is, by far, the most valuable skill he's bringing to this ball club - the closest anyone on the Mavericks roster last season came to that was Doug McDermott with 49%, and McBuckets has since left for the Indiana Pacers.
Among the remaining Mavs, the immortal Dirk Nowitzki was the best, at 41%. After him, you have a few good-but-not-great shooters - Wesley Matthews, J.J. Barea, and Harrison Barnes - then it kind of drops off from there. With the jury still out on Smith Jr.'s and Dončić's marksmanship at this point, you can see how much Dallas needs Broekhoff's sniper skills.
He might not hit 50% again, but with so many playmakers on this team, and coupled with Rick Carlisle's flow offence, Rowdy will get his fair share of attempts. He might have already received clear instructions to get to the corners and fire them up; in the Mavs' first preseason game against the Beijing Ducks, he took four shots (all 3-pointers) and knocked down two of them.
After going 1-of-3 from deep in the first game against the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Global Games in China, he's already almost at 50% for his NBA career!
Securing the boards
Another area that Broekhoff can help out in is on the boards. As a Mavs fan, I can personally attest that rebounding has been a chronic issue since Tyson Chandler said goodbye. Last season, the team ranked 27th in total rebounds, and were dead last in offensive rebounds. Harrison Barnes led the team with just 6.1 boards per game. Come on.
Hopeless rebounding has become just another fact of life for Mavs fans, but there's hope for improvement this year. DeAndre Jordan will be the main solution to this problem, but Broekhoff is no slouch either. He averaged 5.5 rebounds (a career high) in his final season with Kuban, and should be able to chip in as part of the second unit.
Providing wing depth
Speaking of the second unit: Dallas has its fair share of big men and (too) many guards, but is sorely lacking in the wing department. Veteran Devin Harris saw time at small forward last year and might do so again, but putting a 6′3″ guard up against the increasingly-long wings in the NBA isn't exactly an ideal scenario.
Barnes, Matthews, and Dončić look like they will be playing interchangeably between the SG, SF, and PF spots and thus provide some coverage, but on the bench, Broekhoff and third-year man Dorian Finney-Smith figure to be the only wings in the rotation. Another rookie, Ding Yanyuhang, is a possibility, but this seems unlikely at the moment - Ding hasn't been practicing with the team due to knee tendinitis, and so will likely take longer to find a place in the rotation.
Between Broekhoff, Finney-Smith, and Ding, the Mavs have a trio of unproven (in the NBA) options. Finney-Smith has just over 100 NBA games under his belt, but has yet to really convince people that he's a quality rotation player. As a 5-year professional, the path is open for Broekhoff to make that first-wing-off-the-bench spot his own.
With a clearly-defined offensive role and being cut from the same hustle cloth as his fellow Aussies, Broekhoff could become the Mavs' version of Joe Ingles. It's a comparison that has been made before, and an easy one, given both players' 3-and-D tendencies and similar paths to the NBA. Rowdy doesn't appear to have Jingles' dry wit, but if he's anywhere near as effective on the court, Mavs fans will be more than happy.
And hey, it doesn't hurt that Dirk Nowitzki is one of his idols.