Signing Another Ball Handler is Necessary for the Mavs

The Dallas Mavericks made several outside moves this offseason to strengthen their presence in the paint by signing JaVale McGee and trading for Christian Wood. In addition, the Mavs also re-signed Theo Pinson, drafted Jaden Hardy, and extended Maxi Kleber. The biggest change to the team is the departure of free agent Jalen Brunson after he signed with the New York Knicks. He will be joining his father, who is an assistant coach there. Now the new challenge for the Mavs will be finding another strong ball handler to fill the hole that has been left in the position.

Point Guard Depth

Having depth at the point guard position on any team is essential but especially on one such as the Mavs. Currently the Mavs have a star in Luka Dončić and a majority of the offense runs through him in one form or another because of the unique playmaker that he is. This talent can be a double edged sword because of the increased reliance on him to create plays each possession. It is important that early on the team is able to identify several players that can successfully be the primary ball handler on the court and potentially emulate the same playmaking ability on the court.

Continuing on the importance of depth, in the knock on wood scenario, that Dončić  or Spencer Dinwiddie were to get hurt, having an additional backup would be ideal. For example, using the Utah Jazz playoff series when Dončić got hurt, both Brunson and Dinwiddie filled in. The current roster leaves much more up to chance on who would be an additional backup option with enough experience if either Dončić  or Dinwiddie were to get hurt now that Brunson is gone. In the past, Mavs fans have seen how the team has struggled in the playoffs against the Clippers when the Mavs were dealing with injuries at this position. 

Over Usage for Dončić and Dinwiddie

This last season showed the importance of strong ball handlers with the trade for Dinwiddie and Brunson stepping up as they both played a significant part in the Mavs going to the Western Conference Finals. Looking at the playoff minutes from this past season, Jalen Brunson had the third highest minutes at 565. This averages to 34.9 minutes per game. This is not sustainable for the playoffs to be split between two primary ball handlers, a third is necessary to avoid over usage. 

Current options on the roster

Right now the Mavs have several guards who could fill this need but none of them quite have all the traits that true ball handlers do. Frank Ntlikina is normally used as a prime perimeter defender and Josh Green is often used as an off-ball wing. Right now, Jaden Hardy is too inexperienced and underdeveloped to take on this kind of responsibility so early on in his career. Lastly, Tyler Dorsey has shown positive flashes at Eurobasket but he is still a two-way player and would need to show a lot more to be in that position.

Ultimately it would be surprising if the Mavs do not find an additional ball handler as they have an open roster spot and could use the depth for a variety of reasons but most importantly having a safety net at such an important position makes good basketball sense. Right now fans should be optimistic about what a veteran like Dinwiddie can do stepping up in this role but on the lookout for potential fits as additions to the team.

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