As the dust settled on the Dallas Mavericks’ season, the truth of the Western Conference finals revealed that Luka Doncic alone is enough to get close to a championship. But if the Mavericks want to win late in the playoffs, they will need another impact player.
And Dallas can’t pick up merely any impact player. One Eastern Conference executive specifically detailed the Mavericks will need a player who can change the game and be a factor in the middle of the paint — a center.
“[The Mavericks] are one player away,” the Eastern Conference executive told ESPN. The Eastern Conference executive insinuated that if Dallas adds a center that helps the team offensively and defensively, it could win a championship next season.
Why Dallas’ center rotation lacks
Dwight Powell brings a blue-collar work ethic to Dallas’ locker room, but his production waned during the NBA playoffs.
In 18 playoff games, he averaged 3.2 points and 2.6 rebounds. He wasn’t an offensive weapon, and he didn’t rebound well to make up for it. Without Doncic feeding him easy looks at the rim, Powell added little-to-nothing on dives to the rim, allowing Golden State to sell out on Doncic to limit his effectiveness.
Powell was a non-factor.
So, it’s no surprise that Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison and team owner Mark Cuban are working to find a viable solution to the Mavericks’ center conundrum.
“We lost some games on the boards, and I think that’s important,” Harrison said in his exit interview. “We need to get somebody that can help us on the rebounds and be a rim protector — we need to figure that out for sure.”
Who is available?
The names this summer are ones we have heard all year: Rudy Gobert and Deandre Ayton. Both centers are on teams Dallas beat during its run to the Western Conference finals. However, beating both teams — Utah and Phoenix — shouldn’t be used as a line of reasoning to dissuade Dallas from pursuing both options. The name of the game is winning championships. To get there, Dallas needs someone who can be a genuine anchor in the middle of the floor.
Gobert has a track record of being the best defensive big in the league. And Ayton is young and eager to get back to the finals.
If Dallas can land one of Gobert or Ayton, it will have found its missing piece to the championship puzzle.
Powell has been good in Dallas, but it’s time for a real upgrade.
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Feature image via Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.