The Dallas Mavericks aren’t supposed to be this good. Okay, yes, any team featuring Luka Doncic will rightfully have sky-high expectations during the season. And given Doncic’s generally recognized greatness on offense, it’s probably no surprise that the Mavericks have the league’s eighth-best offensive rating (113.9).
But defensively? No way. Come on. While neither Doncic (6’7) nor his backcourt partner Spencer Dinwiddie (6’5) is undersized, neither one has ever been heralded for otherworldly defense. And yet, the Mavs have the ninth-best defensive rating in the NBA (110.3).
But could they get even better? Absolutely, according to one trade proposal with the Toronto Raptors laid out by si.com’s Michael Mulford. Here’s the trade:
Mavs Receive: OG Anunoby
Raptors Recieve: Reggie Bullock, Dwight Powell, and a 2025 unprotected first-round pick
Why the Mavs Say Yes
This is one of those circumstances where a team if given the opportunity, should mash the “make trade” button down like a six-year-old who just learned of the joy of Whack-A-Mole for the first time.
Anunoby is on any Defensive Player of the Year shortlist right now. The 6’8 wing’s block rate is better than 93 percent of the league. His steals rate is somehow even sharper, landing him in the 99th percentile. He would immediately plug into the spot currently held by the struggling Reggie Bullock and give the Mavs a bonafide wing to ride into the playoffs.
Yeah, losing Dwight Powell’s 6.3 points per game would be a true bummer. Kidding! The Mavericks have plenty of big men to throw onto the court in Powell’s absence, including Christian “please start him” Wood and JaVale McGee. Oh, and Anunoby’s contract is ideal for Dallas, as Mulford noted.
“Anunoby’s contract fits well into the Mavericks’ fold as well. He’s on the second year of his four-year, $72 million deal, which includes a player option in 2024-25 at the age of 27.”
Why in the World Would Toronto Say Yes?
We just spent the last 150 words extolling the greatness of OG Anunoby, so why would Toronto — one of the league’s savviest front offices — part ways with him? It comes down to two factors: money and the great unknown which is the future.
The purse strings are going to be stretched far in Toronto in no shortage of time. As Mulford explained, the Raps have five key players who will be looking for contract extensions soon and thus getting off Anunoby’s $72 million might be in the cards.
“For Bullock, he has one year remaining after this season while Powell hits unrestricted free agency this coming offseason. This adds some financial flexibility for the Raptors, who have all of Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Precious Achiuwa, and Scottie Barnes with one year remaining after this season.”
But there’s one more factor here underscoring everything: the future. While Mulford didn’t discuss the idea that Doncic could want out of Dallas, it’s very well possible. Would it happen as soon as 2025, when the Raptors would get Dallas’ unprotected pick? Possibly.
Think that’s overblown? Remember that the Houston Rockets were roundly excoriated at the time of the James Harden-Brooklyn Nets deal for not getting enough. The deal was built mainly around picks, including three unprotected selections from Brooklyn. How would a team built around Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden possibly net Houston any draft picks of value?
Flash forward to 2022 and the Nets have fired their head coach, no longer have Durant, and are hurtling toward (at best) an early playoff exit. Oh, and Houston still gets two of Brooklyn’s first-round picks (and pick swaps in between).
No, I’m not predicting that Doncic will leave Dallas or that the Mavs would ever give him that opportunity. But even the most open-and-shut situations have gone belly up real quick. Maybe Toronto takes a gamble on a Mavericks team that hasn’t done the best job in the world of adding stars around Doncic? It wouldn’t be the craziest idea.