Through the first half of the 2021-22 NBA season, many players have gotten more opportunity than expected. With teams having depleted rosters as players are in health and safety protocols, they’ve been given the opportunity to sign replacement players to 10-day hardship deals.
One player that’s seen success in this process is Marquese Chriss. A versatile big, he’s established himself as a key piece of the Dallas Mavericks’ rotation and recently got a promotion. Following three consecutive 10-day deals, the Mavs signed Chriss to a two-year contract.
Prior to being promoted to a full-time NBA contract, he played in 12 games while averaging 6.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest. To make this signing work, Dallas had to clear a roster spot. As such, the Mavs ultimately waived center Willie Cauley-Stein.
Cauley-Stein was a quality rotation center, but has been on personal leave for two months and has not been able to take the floor.
While it’s a small move, Chriss could certainly raise the ceiling of the Mavericks.
Chriss’ NBA Journey
At 19 years old, Chriss was drafted No. 8 overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. He made one of the All-Rookie teams, having a solid season with the Phoenix Suns. The 6-foot-9 big played in all 82 games as a rookie, averaging 9.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
From there, his production began to decline each season. In fact, entering the 2021-22 season Chriss was out of the NBA altogether. However, he took the full advantage of the opportunity to play on a 10-day contract in Dallas.
“Marquese was one of those guys who was a lottery pick and had a really good early rookie year,” said Mavs GM Nico Harrison following the signing. “So he was a player we were familiar with. When you find a guy who has had success in the league and maybe was undervalued – you can give him a hug and get that value back and I think that’s what he’s done for us.
This has been a great opportunity for Chriss, who’s extremely grateful for the Mavs giving him the chance to prove his worth.
“I’m thankful to be solidified on the team for any time span, but two years is a good amount of time,” Chriss said after inking his new contract. “Being here these last, what, 30 days, has kind of shown that I do the best I can to help the team win. The timing was perfect. It sucked that people had to be sick for it to happen. But I’m thankful that I could show people I could still play and I was healthy. I like to think I’m pretty good at basketball.”
Going forward, he’ll give Dallas much needed versatility.
A Bench Spark
When Chriss comes onto the court, the Mavericks play with a ton of energy. A guy that gives everything he has, this energy and passion is contagious. He’s proven to be a great piece off the bench.
Although he’s still carving out a spot in the rotation, Chriss is playing nearly 12 minutes per night. Even then, he’s still finding ways to be productive in limited action. As his role expands, the production should as well. Per 36 minutes this season, Chriss is averaging 20.6 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
While he’s not known for being a 3-point shooter, the newly signed Maverick has been a great floor spacer to this point in the season. He’s knocked down 6-of-14 (.429) of his attempts from beyond the arc thus far. That doesn’t make him a major threat from deep, but defenses have to respect him on the perimeter which opens up the paint.
The Mavericks’ decision to sign Chriss could pay off in a big way. They’re currently 24-19, winning eight of their last ten games.