Maxi Kleber is more than just the next big thing out of Wurzburg, he is an extremely valuable part of the Dallas Mavericks’ success on several fronts.
At first, he was a novelty to fans as he would make sure there was still going to be a Maverick from Wurzburg after Dirk hung it up, but he has progressed into a vital team member that the Mavs locked up for 4 years and $36M. And as of now, that might be one of the best value signings in the NBA the way he’s played.
Year over year, Maxi has improved in the ways the team has asked him to. He’s gotten better in EVERY box score category each year except for steals and blocks, but those have remained consistent. That means he’s steadily improved in minutes, points, shooting percentages and +/- as his career has gone on while still maintaining the nearly the exact same usage rate of 13.2%. All this from an undrafted kid from Germany no one had ever heard of.
As of late, Maxi has put his foot on the gas with a larger role being asked of him. With his frontcourt mate, Kristaps Porzingis sidelined for the past 10 days, Maxi has shown he has even more to give his team. Over the last 3 games, he’s shot 50% from 3PT range, shot 63% overall and nearly doubled his scoring output to 16.3 PPG while playing 8 more minutes a game and being 6.7 in +/- (all markedly higher numbers than the rest of the season).
With the opportunity in front of him, Maxi is excelling in a way that HAS to make MFFLs and the front office ecstatic.
Even though his confidence has grown as of late on the court, according to his teammates, he has always been a vocal leader during practices. Maxi and Dorian are known to hold their teammates accountable for lapses on defense and keeping players connected in practice so that it translates to games.
Clearly, his work ethic is paying off for him and he wants that to affect his teammates in a positive way as well.
Maxi has evolved his game over time to be the perfect big man for a Rick Carlisle offense. At first, he was a stretch 4 that needed to adjust to the NBA 3PT line. He adjusted in the back half of his first season. Then he was asked to be part of the unstoppable MAX POWER tandem in his second year with Dwight Powell that saw them both become elite rim rollers with JJ Barea tossing them lobs. He also realized that this team needed a rim protector and happily took that mantle on to eventually lead the team in blocks last season.
And now this year, he’s figured out how to work alongside one of the most unique big men in Porzingis all while getting better at both pick and roll action AND pick and pop action with Luka. What’s not to like??
Top 10 percentile roll men in the NBA this season. ? pic.twitter.com/JJOFk1Kkxs
— Bibs (@BibsCorner) January 6, 2020
Among all players that have at least 30 pick-and-pop possessions and rolls to the basket, Maxi Kleber and Aron Baynes are the only players to rank within the top five in PPP in both. pic.twitter.com/4DB9KjwlM5
— Mavs Coverage (@MavsCoverage) January 7, 2020
Even off the court, Maxi has emerged as one of the Mavs’ most engaging personalities. He is always happy to talk to the media, which is no small thing when one of your stars isn’t doesn’t LOVE speaking media attention. The Mavs Media team has found that Maxi is game for just about anything and they have planned to do more extra content using Maxi like this:
As the season continues, and Kristaps returns to action, expect Maxi’s role to return to back to the norm with he and Dwight Powell switching out situationally next to Porzingis, but his floor spacing with other shooters to compliment Luka will ALWAYS be needed. As long as he stays hot shooting from 3, this team needs him on the floor. And when *knocks on wood* the Mavs make the playoffs, I would expect Maxi to play heavy minutes with his offensive and defensive skill set needed to keep the Mavs in the game.
Maxi, like Dorian Finney-Smith, has looked at his team and his place in it as a symbiotic relationship in that they both can do better by working towards a common goal. He has accepted the multiple roles asked of him as a personal challenge and has stepped up to meet each of them at every turn of his career.
And the best part of it all, he’s going to stick around for the next 4 years of WINNING Mavericks basketball.
Featured Image: Getty Images Video: Dallas Mavericks Media