During the 2022 NBA Playoffs, analyst Reggie Miller made a statement that puzzled Mavericks fans. Miller said that Maxi Kleber is known for his shooting but not his defense.
Strong First Half
While Maxi Kleber started the 2021-22 season as a role player for the Dallas Mavericks, he played a vital role and saw action as a starter in 20 of the first 42 games he appeared in. In the first part of the season, he showed his talent on both ends of the floor. Kleber averaged 8.0 points per game (PPG), 6.0 rebounds per game (RPG), 1.1 assists per game (APG), 0.5 steals per game (SPG), and 1.0 blocks per game (BPG). When it came to his three-point shooting and free-throw shooting Kleber shot 37.2% from beyond the arc and 77.1% from the free-throw line up until the All-Star break.
Cold Second Half
Following the All-Star break, Kleber’s season seemed to have changed, he found himself off-rhythm shooting ball and losing his confidence. He stayed in his primary role as a bench player, only starting in one of the 17 games he played in the second half of the season. His offensive stats seemed to have taken a big hit after the break while his defense stayed consistent to how they were before the All-Star break. In the second half of the season, Kleber averaged 4.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.5 SPG, and 0.8 BPG. His three-point shooting and free-throws took a big hit as he only shot 18.8% from beyond the arc and 52.9% from the foul line.
The way Kleber played in the second half of the regular season contradicts Miller’s statement about him.
As soon as the playoffs rolled around, Kleber kicked it into another gear. He averaged 8.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.2 SPG, and 0.8 BPG. He shot 43.6% from three and 71.4% from the free-throw line.
The way Kleber played in the playoffs would fit Miller’s statement shooting the three, but he was still able to put up good defensive numbers in the playoffs.
Maxi’s Stats Speak For Themselves
Kleber averaged 7.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.5 SPG, and 1.0 BPG during the regular season. He shot 32.5% from beyond the arc and 70.8% from the free-throw line. His offensive rating during the regular season was 109 while his defensive rating was 107. During the playoffs, his offensive rating was 130 while his defensive rating was 115.
Kleber had a few games throughout the year in which he showed his offensive and defensive skills. In a game against the New Orleans Pelicans on February 17, 2022, he scored 20 points, the most points he scored during this year’s regular season. On April 18, 2022, in game 2 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs Kleber scored a season-high 25 points against the Utah Jazz.
Kleber tied his career-high of 14 rebounds in a game twice during this season, once against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 19, 2021 and again versus the Indiana Pacers on January 29, 2022. He also tied his career-high blocks in a game, when he grabbed six blocks against the San Antonio Spurs on October 28, 2021. Kleber recorded two double-doubles this season.
When all is said and done, Kleber’s performance showed that is still a prominent 3&D player on a talented playoff team. Kleber’s defensive performance during the regular season was slightly better than his defensive performance during the playoffs, but his offensive performance improved during the playoffs when compared to the regular season. As a TNT analyst who covers primarily nationally televised games and the NBA Playoffs, Miller’s statement on how Kleber played had more to do with what he saw during the playoffs than how Kleber actually played throughout the entire season.