What can Josh McRoberts bring to the Mavs?

Josh McRoberts was traded to Dallas in early July for AJ Hammons, and the trade also included a 2nd round pick to Dallas. However, many Mavericks fans were upset with the trade and quickly dismissed McRoberts. I have yet to see any strong analysis of McRoberts and his fit in Dallas, so I will provide you with one.

First, McRoberts had a poor 3 years in Miami. He was one of the replacement signings when Lebron left Miami in 2014. His cumulative Miami stats: 4 PPG, 2 APG, 2.8 RPG on 39.8% shooting and 33% from 3, marking a eFG% of 45%. For reference, despite Wesley Matthews’ poor shooting metrics, he still maintained a near 50% eFG%. He also added just 1.5 win shares, which estimates the impact a player had on a team.

However, in Charlotte, Josh McRoberts was playing the best basketball of his career. In his year and a half in Charlotte, he averaged 8.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4 APG on 45% shooting, 35% from 3, and an eFG% of 52.8%.

Clearly McRoberts didn’t have it in Miami and was not a fit. However, McRoberts is 30 years old, which means that those numbers may be the norm, or that he could still bounce back for a couple of years. One recent example of a 30 year old turning his career around after recent struggles (also a PF) for Dallas was Charlie Villanueva. He had a terrible ending to his Dallas (and likely NBA) career, but his first season in Dallas was one of the strongest comeback seasons of any player in recent memory. Like McRoberts, Charlie V was a cast-off coming off of a big contract.

While Charlie V and McRoberts are not terribly similar, they both have shooting ability. This may help McRoberts’ production.

However, the Mavericks roster is built in an interesting way. The depth at each position is scattered, and at the moment, playing time seems unpredictable. McRoberts may just be a player for contract purposes and does not see the court very much. Or maybe Dwight Powell gets his minutes cut because of this acquisition. The rotations are very unpredictable right now, which makes McRoberts and others’ roles questionable.

That being said, McRoberts is one of the best passers for his position. Josh McRoberts recorded a 24% assist percentage, being one of just 24 power forwards to do so in the last 6 seasons.Screenshot 2017-07-12 at 1.49.02 AM

McRoberts’ playmaking was the one aspect that did not fall of for him in Miami, and that would be a vital attribute that he can bring to the Dallas roster. If his shot falls as well, he may be able to be a quality bench player. His production and minutes will all depend on Powell’s performance and the team’s performance. McRoberts’ defense will not be entirely important, as he will be coming off the bench and I would assume that if he plays power forward, he will play alongside defensive minded Salah Mejri. McRoberts also has athleticism, but it has been less useful in game since his injuries in Miami.

Personal anecdote: I went to a Charlotte game in December 2013 in Dallas, and during pre-game warmups, McRoberts did a free throw line dunk that rimmed out. It was one of the most amazing sights I had ever seen.

Overall, if McRoberts can get playing time under Rick Carlisle, he can become an impactful bench player offensively. His roster spot is low risk and has good reward. If he plays well, and the Mavs are struggling, they might be able to trade him for a 2nd round pick, but that might be a bit optimistic, as he was traded with a 2nd rounder in order for a team to take his contract. McRoberts will likely be looking to turn his career around and earn another contract for next season, as he is a free agent in 2018.

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