Heading into the season, the Dallas Mavericks faced a significant decision at center. Fortunately, the Mavs had two decent options: former Warriors champ JaVale McGee, Mavs veteran Dwight Powell, and talented youngster Christian Wood, brought over in an in-state trade with the Houston Rockets. Head coach Jason Kidd initially gave the nod to McGee, promising the vet a spot in the starting five.
But 15 games later and the Mavericks have apparently seen enough. Over the last six games, Kidd’s lineups featured Powell at the five instead of McGee. And for good reason: the Mavericks are a ghastly minus-20 with him on the floor.
But while moving McGee to the bench might have been painfully obvious for us at home, the center himself expressed confusion about the switch on Friday night after the Mavericks crushed the Denver Nuggets 127-99.
“I don’t really have an understanding of when my minutes will come, but I’m a professional, so whatever my team feels we need to win.”
Could the Mavericks Feature More Lineups With Christian Wood?
While Powell has gotten the nod lately as the starting five, the data suggests another candidate might make the ideal starter: Christian Wood. Wood has formed a prolific partnership with superstar Luka Doncic in the pick-and-roll. Lineups featuring Wood and Doncic score 128.0 points per 100 possessions, a striking figure suggesting Dallas’ best lineups might not be the one it starts with. And despite coming off the bench, Wood has been pleasantly surprised with his new digs, speaking with reporters in early November.
“It’s been a little bit better than what I expected it to be. I guess you could say that, especially with me coming off the bench. It’s been great.”
Is Wood the ideal teammate next to Doncic? Not necessarily. But as Michael Pina of The Ringer noted, Wood is an intriguing fit next to Doncic.
“Wood is a dynamic exclamation point but not the reliable shot creator Luka will (probably) need to win it all. But until they find him, Wood is a fascinating and effective tool that makes life a little easier for Dallas’ MVP candidate.”
Could the Mavericks Leverage McGee in a Potential Trade?
If McGee slips further down the Mavericks’ pecking order, it might make sense for the team to look for a trade partner. Given the fact that McGee signed with Dallas in the summer, he’s not trade-eligible until December 15, per the league’s CBA.
That timeline should work perfectly for the Mavericks. It gives Dallas another month to determine whether McGee will factor into the team’s long-term plans. If Dallas is satisfied with Powell starting and Wood providing key minutes off the bench, McGee must be shopped.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of teams that could use McGee’s veteran presence. He’s just one season removed from bringing down 6.7 rebounds per game, a figure in line with the 6.4 he’s averaged since 2018.
Would a rebound-needy team like the Brooklyn Nets or Phoenix Suns have an interest in McGee? Or perhaps the Golden State Warriors take a chance on their former center, given the team’s current disaster at the five. It’s difficult to imagine what McGee might bring back in return, but it’s possible his value increases over the next few weeks as trade season heats up.