The Dallas Mavericks have acquired veteran sharpshooter JJ Redick and big-man Nicolo Melli from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for a package of James Johnson, Wesley Iwundu, and a second round pick.
The Mavs, who currently rank 19th in the league in both three-point percentage and rebounding after being 10th and 6th in those respective categories last year, have clearly taken a step back as a team.
Whether this fall off is a result of defense, rebounding, shooting, or any other variable, something had to change and this trade may present the solution.
Based purely on numbers, it seemed that the only notable acquisition from this trade was the addition of Redick for his league renowned shooting abilities, but Monday’s matchup against the Thunder said otherwise.
In a short but efficient 11 minutes, Nicolo Melli posted a stat line of six points, three rebounds and a steal. On paper these numbers seem decent at best, but the recent narrative around Melli has said otherwise. Mavs star Luka Dončić was more than pleased at the addition of a European big man.
Dončić stated that, “It’s going to be great, he’s an amazing player,” said Dončić. “He’s a great person. We connected from the first moment. I know Europeans connect better, but he’s a good person for the locker room, and you saw today, he was playing amazing basketball.”
The addition of Nicolo Melli has quickly gone from meaningless to becoming a potential steal among Mavericks fans.
While it is not certain that Melli will be a key contributor to the team later in the year in the playoffs, the potential has presented itself.
The true prize of this trade, however, was adding JJ Redick as another shooter to Luka Doncic’s arsenal off the bench. While he has missed some time this year with a heel injury, he is expected to return well before the playoffs.
Donnie Nelson, general manager of the Mavericks, stated that, “We want to make sure that heel is 100% and so that’s more of a situation we’re going to have a chance to maybe have him workout and then slowly, when it’s comfortable, to integrate and come to Dallas.”
Some, however, may still question Redick’s value as a 36-year-old who is coming off a significant injury and a career low percentage in shooting.
The stats as of this year may not support it, but the addition of Redick’s shooting ability will be enormous for the Mavericks playoff efforts.
Just last year, Dallas ran the most statistically efficient offense in NBA history and shot exceptional from three with a relatively similar roster, so what’s the catch? The answer is Seth Curry.
Since trading Curry to Philadelphia, The Mavericks have seen an obvious stoop in their three point shooting success, and that has translated to a few losses this year.
The Mavericks, who only have one true sharpshooter among their guards in Tim Hardaway Jr., could easily expand their offense with Redick’s shooting ability.
“I think JJ [Redick] obviously is no stranger to playoff intensity and big shots in big moments,” said Nelson. “To put another shooter next to Luka [Dončić] is really important for us.”
Last year, the Mavericks had 2 actively playing shooters (Seth Curry and Trey Burke) shooting above 40% from the arc. This year, only big man Maxi Kleber is shooting above this mark, and that is only on 4 attempts per game (Tim Hardaway Jr. shoots at a clip just under 40% at 39.8%).
This is not to say that shooting is the entire problem in Dallas, but it is most certainly holding them back. If they can properly introduce Reddick into the offense alongside Hardaway Jr., however, Dallas may have one of the best shooting tandems in the league.
In terms of overall talent acquisitions, the Mavericks’ new deal may not stand out, but it’s impact is unquestionable. Dallas has bolstered two of their biggest weaknesses and with 27 games left until the playoffs, they’ve got time to figure things out.
Redick and Melli may not hold the same stature and name that other players during the deadline did, but what they do have is value. Value that will ultimately make this Mavericks team more well-rounded and ready for playoff basketball.
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