Finding consistent center play is a priority for the Dallas Mavericks this offseason.
However, with a max contract spot given to Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavs have limited cap space to work with. Though they are buyers, the Mavs can’t go out and throw money at anyone who rebounds or blocks shot at an above-average rate.
With those constrictions, it’s time to explore some bargain big men that can help the Mavericks improve in the paint and add some needed size to the frontcourt.
Lopez isn’t going to wow you with his statistical output. He averaged nine points and 3.8 rebounds per game last season. But what he lacks in stats, he makes up for with experience. He’s played on several playoff teams and has a -sneaky- efficient offensive arsenal at his disposal.
During the 2020-21 NBA season, Lopez utilized one of the most famous shots in league history to score the ball effectively. He brought back the hook shot. From five feet from the basket, or 16, he was a threat due to his sweeping hooks that were often devastating for opposing teams. He posted a career-best 63 percent from the field last season for a reason.
Outside of offense, Lopez was an effective positional defender. He struggled on switches, but when placed in front of the basket he was a defensive plus. In Dallas, he can play the same role. At an expected value of $7.5 million, Lopez is the definition of a bargain bin steal.
Mavericks fans are familiar with Noel. He played in Dallas from 2016-18, and at the end of his tenure, he turned down a four-year $70 million contract. Since then, he’s served as a great value big who is a defensive ace.
During his 2020-21 NBA season, Noel averaged a career-best 2.2 blocks per game in only 24 minutes of play. That wasn’t all he did. He also got into passing lanes and disrupted offensive actions with his hands, averaging 1.1 steals per game.
Noel fixes the Mavericks’ blatant need for rim protection. Dallas ranked 20th in defensive rating. Having Noel back in the middle of things should help abate those problems. Though Noel is set for a pay raise, he still presents great value relative to other players in the free agency pool this summer.
Dieng isn’t close to a star player nor a star in his role, but he’s a talented roll man with an adept touch. He scored 1.52 points per possession as the roll man, placing him in the 99 percentile in the league.
He’s a big that requires a good playmaker to bring the best out of him. It’s no coincidence that his best seasons came with Ricky Rubio feeding him the ball. In Dallas, he’ll be playing alongside Luka Doncic who is a gifted passer. He will also have space on the floor to score around the basket because of Porzingis’ outside shooting.
Dieng won’t give the Mavs everything they need to be playoff contenders, but he offers frontcourt insurance at a bargain rate for a team needing depth going forward.
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Feature image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports.