Well, folks, the wonderful spectacle that is NBA trade/waive/buyout season is officially upon us. And what better team to inaugurate the most wonderful time of the year than the Dallas Mavericks?
On Monday morning, NBA insider Marc Stein broke the news that the Mavs plan to sign former All-Star Kemba Walker, who was waived by the Detroit Pistons.
As a result, the Mavs are also waiving Facundo Campazzo, who signed with Dallas over the summer and played with Luka Doncic back in the pair’s Real Madrid EuroLeague days. In Walker, the Mavericks are getting a player whose best days are unquestionably behind him, but who nonetheless represents an upgrade over Campazzo, who was Dallas’ only real non-wing guard option off the bench.
Despite the upside, many fans were left wondering how much Walker’s addition will really impact a team that’s lost four straight games and sits 11th in the Western Conference.
What Walker Brings to the Mavericks
In some ways, it’s only fitting to bring struggling Walker into the fold of a struggling Mavericks team. Unfortunately, though, two wrongs rarely make a right, and Walker’s fit in Dallas stands to be much better on paper than in practice.
At his peak, Walker was a dynamic, fleet-footed playmaker who kept defenses honest beyond the arc. Back in 2018-19, for instance, he managed a career-high 25.6 points and nearly six assists per game. Yet in the three years since, Walker’s played in just 55 percent of his teams’ games, often missing time due to nagging injuries. In fact, he’s yet to play this season, though that’s been more a factor of Detroit’s focus on a younger roster than any injury concerns.
And then there’s the defense. Suffice it to say that Walker has never been a real two-way threat as a point guard. While Walker was a decent defensive point guard for the Charlotte Hornets six-ish years ago, he’s been in the bottom half of the league in steals rate ever since. Fortunately, Dallas is currently fourth in the league in steals, but still boasts a defensive rating that is just outside the top 10.
But defense likely isn’t why Dallas signed Walker in the first place. Dallas needs a reliable secondary playmaker that can alleviate some of the Herculean load Doncic’s carried so far this season. Unfortunately, as stated above, reliability isn’t Walker’s strong suit of late.
Walker Earns Praise of Former Head Coach
Despite his shortcomings, Walker still has many fans both on and off the floor. Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, whom Walker played for most recently, labeled injury concern as the only limitation to Walker’s game.
“We thought (the big-money signing) was worth it. There were some good moments. If he’s healthy, he’s good. So, that’s about it.”
For now, it makes sense for the Mavericks to ease Walker back into playing form. Barring some unforeseen catastrophe involving Spencer Dinwiddie, Walker will most likely come off the bench. It’s an ideal low-stakes role suited for someone like Walker, who could use a little time away from the spotlight after an awkward end in New York.