Later this month, the Dallas Mavericks will kick off their 2021-22 season. With an upgraded roster from last season, they have the potential to be one of the better teams in the NBA.
Over the past few weeks, Mavericks Head Coach Jason Kidd has provided insight into what the starting lineup will look like at the start of the season.
As of now, it appears Dallas will start Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, Kristaps Porzingis and Dwight Powell on opening night.
From there, the new-look bench unit is starting to become more clear as well. On Sunday, the Mavericks held their annual Fan Jam event, where fans get a first look at the roster in a 5-on-5 scrimmage format.
At the event, the second unit that competed against the starters comprised of Jalen Brunson, Sterling Brown, Reggie Bullock, Maxi Kleber and Willie Cauley-Stein.
This is a fascinating group that includes two of the Mavericks’ key free agent acquisitions in Bullock and Brown. An important part of any team, the reserves have a chance to be special in Dallas this season.
What does this second unit bring to the table?
Scoring & Experience
These first five guys off the bench are experienced NBA players, combining for nearly 1500 games of experience. Additionally, last season they combined for over 150 starts on their respective teams.
Many players around the league that come off the bench are young an inexperienced. However, when it comes to the Dallas bench, nearly every player that will get significant minutes have the experience needed to win both in the regular season and playoffs.
Not only is this group of five experienced, but they can also score the ball. Last season, they combined for 44. 1 points per game, although they weren’t all on the same team. To put that into perspective, the Detroit Pistons had the most bench points last season with 41. 3 per game. The Mavericks scored just 37. 4 bench points per game as a team.
Brunson will presumably be the leader of the reserves in terms of scoring. Last season, he averaged 12. 6 points per game and has a chance to be even better this season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Brunson become an NBA Sixth Man of the Year favorite.
This Mavs bench unit should have no problem keeping the offense going at a high level.
Of these first five guys off the bench, four were elite 3-point shooters last season. Brunson (40. 5%), Bullock (41. 0%), Kleber (41. 0%) and Brown (42. 3%) all shot better than 40% from deep in the 2020-21 season.
Although he wasn’t in this five-man bench unit on Sunday, even newly-acquired Frank Ntilikina shot 47. 9% on limited attempts last season. As the season continues to unfold, he has a real chance to work his way into the first handful of players off the bench, especially with his defensive upside.
Having this many shooters off the bench could be huge for Dallas this season. When their primary scorers in Doncic and Porzingis sit, the reserves have plenty of shooting to keep the Mavericks afloat.