With the Mavs’ signing of Nerlens Noel, the club’s roster now sits at 20 players, the maximum amount the team can bring to training camp. The full roster is below.
There are several familiar names on that list — after all, the Mavs are bringing back 11 players from last year’s team — but in addition to Dennis Smith Jr. the Mavericks are bringing several first-year players to camp, and others whose names you might not yet know. You can see more about center Jeff Withey’s game here, in the first edition of our Scout’s Eye video series, and you can read more about Maxi Kleber looking forward to playing with his countryman Dirk Nowitzki here.
The following is a run-down of four of the newest players you’ll become much more familiar with as the preseason unfolds, and each has a chance of not only landing one of the remaining two-way contracts, but also potentially a spot on the 15-man roster.
Brandon Ashley ought to be the most familiar name of the bunch, not only because he played for the Mavericks for two straight summers, but also because he was with Dallas for the 2015 preseason. The 23-year-old Arizona product appeared in seven games during that year’s exhibition season before playing that season for the Texas Legends, where he averaged 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game en route to earning an All-Star nod.
Ashley truly made his name in July, however, by averaging 11.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and a block in 20 minutes per game in the Las Vegas Summer League. A power forward by trade, Ashley basically played center full-time in the desert. He was able to make a very positive impact on a team that advanced all the way to the semifinals. Before that, he also played a couple games for eventual-champion Dallas in the Orlando Summer League.
The 6-foot-9 4-man is a silky-smooth mid-range shooter and is working to expand his range to the 3-point line. If he can do that, he could be a very dangerous stretch power forward in the 3-point-happy NBA. And at just 23 years old, he’s still got plenty of time to tap into that potential.
Maalik Wayns is the most professionally established name of the group, having appeared in 29 NBA games for the 76ers and Clippers from 2012-2014. Since then, he’s played both in the G League and overseas. Across all competitions last season in Israel and Russia, Wayns averaged 11.8 points, 3.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game in 30 appearances.
He was named Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year as a high school senior in 2009 and went on to have a terrific career at Villanova, averaging 13.8 points per game as a sophomore and 17.6 points per game as a junior.
Wayns is a potent scoring guard who can get to his spots with a combination of quickness and ball-handling ability. He can score both in the paint and on the perimeter, a very valuable skill for a lead guard on an NBA team. It will be interesting to see what he can do playing in the Mavs’ system, where he’ll have plenty of space and freedom to create both for himself and for others.
Gian Clavell raised eyebrows with his play at the Las Vegas Summer League, where he played for the Miami Heat. I watched Clavell’s performance against the Memphis Grizzlies in the quarterfinals (in which he finished with 20 points, four assists, two steals, and some huge 3s down the stretch) with an agent and an overseas coach. Neither knew much about the point guard at the beginning of the game, but by the end he had completely won them over. I wouldn’t be surprised if Clavell had that same effect on many others in attendance, possibly including the Mavericks.
It’s easy to appreciate the way he gets after it. He’s a two-way player in every sense of the word, unafraid to mix it up on the defensive end while also able to hit the 3 at a very high level offensively. Clavell shot 40 percent from the arc across his final two seasons at Colorado State, where he was named Mountain West Player of the Year and to the conference’s First Team All-Defense as a senior, and hit 40.6 percent for Miami in Summer League. He’s tough and skilled, two traits a coach like Rick Carlisle holds in very high regard.
The 23-year-old also shares Puerto Rican heritage with his new teammate J.J. Barea. Coincidentally, Barea spent the latter part of the Puerto Rican BSN season coaching Indios de Mayaguez. Meanwhile, Clavell kicked off his pro career by playing three games for Brujos de Guayama, playing 32 minutes across three games. Once adversaries (kind of), and now teammates, they’ll share a locker room during training camp.
PJ Dozier was one of the breakout players of March Madness, performing at a very high level on both ends of the floor for an upstart South Carolina squad that very nearly advanced to the national championship game. The 6-foot-6 guard scored in double-figures in each of his team’s six postseason games, including the conference tournament. During that time he averaged 15.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game on 48.7 percent shooting from the field.
The Gamecocks had an astonishing defense last season, and Dozier was a major component of their success. South Carolina limited opposing offenses to just 0.804 points per possession in 2016-17, which ranked sixth out of 259 D-I teams and No. 1 among teams from major conferences. Dozier himself is such an intriguing defensive prospect because of the tenacious nature with which he plays and his incredible length. Despite standing just 6-foot-6, he’s got a 6-foot-11 wingspan. In combination with his ability to defend multiple positions, that makes him a defensive ace starter kit.
The 20-year-old improved as a 3-point shooter last season, with still hopefully some improvement yet to come. After shooting just 21.3 percent from deep as a freshman, Dozier improved to 29.8 percent during his sophomore campaign. You’d like to see guards shoot at least near the mid-30s from beyond the arc to make it in the NBA, so that’s one area the Mavs coaches will surely focus on with the young guard. If he can add a reliable jumper to his arsenal, he could be a very effective player for a long time.