The Dallas Mavericks are missing a piece which will take them the next step in the NBA this season. Is Robert Covington that piece and does a trade for him make sense?
The Dallas Mavericks are a serious playoff threat when they are healthy. They started 2020 in third place in the Western Conference standings. Kristaps Porzingis has not played this year and they have dropped to fifth. They had fallen all the way to sixth, but have been helped by the recent struggles of the Houston Rockets.
Porzingis will be back and the Mavericks are going to be a tough matchup for anyone they are paired with in the playoffs. However, there is something missing,. Their two superstars, Luka Doncic and Porzingis, are elite. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a solid option as the third scorer.
In order to become a championship contender, the Mavericks need to upgrade either the center or small forward position. Dwight Powell is a solid center and can hold his own thanks to his ability to play within the system. He is also able to step out and space the floor.
Both Courtney Lee and Keita Bates-Diop are included in this deal to match salaries. Both teams are too close to the salary cap to do a straight swap. The Minnesota Timberwolves would get cap relief next season with Lee’s expiring $12.7 million contract and Finney-Smith’s smaller $4 million deal.
Bates-Diop’s contract finishes at the end of 2020-21 season. Both Covington and Finney Smith are contracted through to the end of the 2021-22 season. Covington is owed $12 million next season and $13 million in the final season of his deal.
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Dallas can alleviate the cap impact of the deal for this season by fitting Covington’s $11.3 million salary for this season into the $11.8 million trade exception created by last year’s deal that sent Harrison Barnes to the Sacramento Kings.
While it may hurt some Dallas Mavericks supporters to move on from Finney-Smith. He puts in work night after night, defending the opposition wing with tenacity. Unfortunately the Mavericks are going to have to, most probably, beat either the Los Angeles Lakers or LA Clippers to get out of the West.
They lost the season series against the Lakers 3-1, which does not bode well for a playoff series. They also have lost the only game they have played this season against the Clippers. Both of these teams have dominant wing players.
Covington is an upgrade defensively over Finney-Smith. He has the size, ability and experience to stay with LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. No one can stop these guys but Covington has a better chance of slowing them down.
Not only is he averaging 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per game this season, he has a career defensive rating of 105 points per 100 possessions. This includes the time when the Philadelphia 76ers were going through The Process and were not good at all.
Compare that to Finney-Smith who averages 0.7 steals and 0.4 blocks per game. His career defensive rating is 111 points per 100 possessions. This difference in defense will be crucial when the games slow down in the post-season.
Covington is also an upgrade offensively for the Mavericks. Over his career Covington has averaged 12.7 points per game. He has also made 36.0 percent of his 6.5 3-point attempts per game. He is the quintessential 3-and-D guy.
Compare this to Finney-Smith whose career average is 6.5 points per game. He has also only made 32.2 percent of his 3.0 3-point field goal attempts. Looking deeper into these numbers and it is easy to see why Covington is a better floor spacer.
Covington shoots 62.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Finney-Smith takes 57.5 percent of his shots from downtown. While this is not a huge difference percentage wise, it equates to two more shots per game.
Opposition defenses are still able to sag off Finney-Smith a little more, helping out on both Porzingis and Doncic. Covington has earned the respect of the league that if you give him an open 3-ball, he will knock it down more often than not. This means that defenses cannot sag off him.
So, should the Dallas Mavericks make a trade for Robert Covington? It makes a lot of sense to trade for Covington, it makes them stronger on both ends of the court.