Boban Marjanović was traded from the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019 to the Dallas Mavericks. The two year seven million dollar contract is up this year leading to questions about what is next for the 7’ 4” center. Marjanović’s regular season averages are highest when he played for the 76ers, which is also where he has played the most minutes. These stats can definitely be replicated and improved upon in Dallas with the correct circumstances. During the 2021 playoffs Marjanović was put in the starting lineup reminding Mavs fans of his skills but it also highlighted the flaws in his game, luckily these can be overcome and he has a lot to offer off the court as well.
Prior to game five of the first round of the playoffs it was announced that Marjanović would be replacing Maxi Kleber in the starting lineup and he continued to do so the rest of the series. Following Rick Carlisle parting with the organization, reports began to surface that Bob Voulgaris supposedly was behind the lineup change. While there was mixed reaction to this change, the circumstances surrounding the change makes you wonder if friction between Voulgaris and Carlisle did not put Marjanović in the best position to succeed. At the end of the day this experience showed us a flash of Marjanović’s potential, if given a better opportunity.
The current issues in Marjanović’s game include having a lack of quickness, not being able to keep up defensively to switch when a screen is set, and having poor stamina to play lots of minutes. His size is both a blessing and a curse and in this case the flaws in his game stem from the curse of his size, luckily he can overcome this with the right coaching. The new hiring of Jason Kidd as head coach can be the beginning of a new start in Marjanović’s career. He is a perfect person for situational substitution when the pace of the game slows down as his inside presence is very valuable both offensively and defensively. Short substitutions during lulls in the game can both give the team energy and players needed breaks. When it comes to switching on screens this issue is much more difficult to fix because if you can’t switch and keep up with the new player you are guarding it leads to an easy score for the other team. He isn’t quite quick enough to fight over the screen and if he drops back he is giving the offense just enough space to shoot. As mentioned earlier he would be in the game during slower periods meaning the team could potentially play zone but the reward may not be worth the risk in this case. Offensively Marjanović can put opposing teams in a tough spot. In a pick and roll you have to guard a tall Marjanović or a quick guard driving to the basket. Additionally Marjanović could rack up assists with his excellent court vision putting pressure on the defense when guards cut to the basket. As far as minutes go if Kidd manages the time right he can get more minutes out of Marjanović spread out over the games length and he can rest more on games where the pace is expected to be fast.
You may be a little suspicious if we really should keep him considering the downsides and the Mavs already have little cap space especially on the edge of Luka Dončić signing a supermax deal. Luckily Marjanović brings so much more to the table than just basketball skills, he is notorious for how kind and well liked he is. Team chemistry is one of the most important factors for a team in any sport because if you can’t trust someone off the court what makes you think you can when you’re on the court? Marjanović is an uplifting force in the locker room and that is something every team needs. His close friendship with Dončić is the most notable connection within the team whether it is them dancing, singing, or even having their own clothing. The two are very close and a superstar like Luka who is close with his teammates can only be good for the team.
Going forward the Mavs should keep Marjanović on the team if the price is right and the staff is able to manage his time and substitutions. He is extremely positive and his energy is infectious, just ask anyone on the team. If he does stay on the team, let’s hope Dončić and Marjanović can bring the chemistry they have off the court onto it and create a one – two punch.