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Mavericks Adding Klay Thompson Doesn’t Solve Their Biggest Issues

Dallas MavericksGolden State WarriorsNBA / By Sam Cox

Klay Thompson to the Mavericks is one of the biggest moves of the NBA offseason. Thompson may no longer be an All-Star or a max contract player, but this is the true end of the NBA’s most recent dynasty. It also sees a future Hall of Famer team up with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Thompson agreed to a three-year, $50 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks. The Golden State Warriors have now lost Chris PaulJordan Poole, and Thompson for just two second-round picks over the last 12 months (both of which were received in this sign-and-trade).

This is a sad way for the Splash Brothers’ spectacular run to end. Yes, Thompson has his four rings, but there’s clearly some tension between the franchise and the five-time All-Star. Thompson reportedly turned down bigger deals to play with the Mavericks due to state income taxes and the chance to win a title.

A lot of focus will be on the Warriors in the coming days, weeks, and months. Rightly so. Golden State has one of the greatest players in league history, and their chances of competing in 2024-25 are nil as it stands. This is the end of an era.

Klay’s Fit In Dallas

Dallas is the team to make the big move here, though. The Mavs just made the NBA Finals, they lost Derrick Jones Jr. in free agency, signed Naji Marshall, and have now landed an elite shooter to pair with Irving and Doncic. In a weak free agency class, Nico Harrison has made the biggest possible splash given Dallas’ cap sheet (Paul George was never a realistic target).

Thompson remains a high-volume, high-efficiency three-point shooter. His three-point percentage is slightly lower since returning from those two career-altering injuries, but he’s still hovering around 40% on almost 10 attempts per game. That kind of off-ball threat, a proper movement shooter, alongside Doncic and Irving is a recipe for a spectacular offense. Dallas has had shooters next to Doncic in the past, but none of them have been anywhere near Thompson’s caliber, nor have they been adept shooting on the move.

The decline in Thompson’s game has primarily been on defense. Opponents were 7.5 points per 100 possessions better on offense with Thompson on the court last season. Those numbers have trended in the wrong direction since his return from injury, which reflects the eye test. Thompson is 34 years old and had two horrific leg injuries. His defense was always going to be worse, but he’s a long, long way from his All-Defense peak. Quick-footed guards can blow by him — gaining separation is not a challenge for elite ball handlers.

Despite ranking 18th in defensive rating for the season, much of Dallas’ surge in 2023-24 was based on defense. Even with Irving and Doncic locking in, the Mavs are going to struggle on the perimeter with an undersized guard, Doncic, and an ageing Thompson. A lot of pressure is put on P.J. Washington and Marshall.

Wrong Move For Dallas

This backcourt trio is going to be so much fun to watch. It opens up even more for Jason Kidd offensively. Thompson can be a screener for Doncic or Irving. He can fly off pindowns. He should help them to keep the offense afloat in non-Doncic minutes.

This doesn’t necessarily raise their ceiling, however. Dallas is left short on options defensively. Would they dare to bench Thompson in crunch time to prioritize defense? If Washington is guarding Anthony Edwards, who takes Karl-Anthony Towns? Will Thompson be able to stay in front of Jalen Williams or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?

The Mavs clearly needed to do something this offseason after getting so close to a ring. Their success in 2024-25 is dependent on the development Dereck Lively II, the play of Washington, and the defense of Irving and Doncic more than it is on Thompson. Harrison wasn’t blessed with a great deal of options this summer, but was adding another offense-first guard the way to go? We are skeptical about the fit of Thompson with Doncic and Irving in the postseason, which is what will really define the evaluation of this move.

About The Author

Sam Cox

Sam is a widely published freelance writer, covering basketball, baseball and a range of other sports. He’s still trying to decide if he prefers a rundown shot block or a smooth double play.