Boban Marjanovic can be a limited difference-maker for the Mavs this season

Despite limited playing time, Boban has been historically efficient throughout his NBA career.

The Dallas Mavericks didn't quite have the offseason that the fanbase was hoping for, but the pieces the team did collect are good pieces that make them better overall. Seth Curry and Delon Wright sit at the top of that list, but after doing some homework, I think I'm more interested in seeing how big of an impact Boban Marjanovic can have for the Mavs this season.

Whoever said, "big things come in small packages," quite possibly could have been talking about the 7-foot, 3-inch tall Serbian and how much he contributes in such small sample sizes.

This past season, Marjanovic averaged 7.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in just 11.7 minutes per game, while splitting time with the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers. He shot 62-percent from the field and 75-percent from the free-throw line. Marjanovic also shot 40-percent from deep, but it was only on 4-of-10 attempts, so we won't gawk over that one too much.

The raw averages aren't where you'll be impressed with Marjanovic. However, when you look at his advanced stats, it's pretty crazy to realize just how much the guy produces when he gets playing time. And when I say "crazy," I mean some of these numbers would be historic if Marjanovic met the minimum "minutes played" qualifiers for being included on the lists.

For example, Marjanovic has a career Player Efficiency Rating of 26.4, with 186 games and 1,819 minutes played. If he met the qualifiers, that would put him at No. 5 in NBA history, only behind Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Shaquille O'Neal. Obviously, I'm not trying to compare Marjanovic's overall body of work to those all-time NBA greats, but it does give you a glimpse of just how efficient he is, while only playing a little under 10 minutes per game for his career to this point.

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Boban plays keep-away from Anthony Davis. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea (Getty)

Marjanovic's career field goal percentage of 58.3 would rank him No. 4 in NBA history, and his career effective field goal percentage of 58.5 would tie him with Dwight Howard for No. 3 in NBA history. Again though, and I can't stress this enough, this is only if Marjanovic met the official requirements to be included on the official lists.

Per 36 minutes for his career, Marjanovic averages 22.7 points and 14.5 rebounds. Per 100 possessions for his career, he averages 27.9 points and 17.5 rebounds. Marjanovic's career offensive rating is 124. By comparison, Chris Paul is currently No. 1 in NBA history in that category with an offensive rating of 122.62.

Seeing how the Mavs have become used to having a "bullpen" of centers for the better part of a decade, I would guess that head coach Rick Carlisle is as excited as anyone about this addition to the team. And who knows? Maybe Carlisle will encourage Marjanovic to show off a little bit more than his scoring and rebounding during his limited stints on the court.

Although Marjanovic is historically efficient, he'll never be a Hall-of-Fame player. He'll probably never accumulate big enough raw averages to ever even be an All-Star either, and that's okay! He's a super-likable guy, and he has a positive impact on and off the court, which is all a team can really ask for from its backup center. And if he can somehow help the Mavs win 3-5 games this season (3.0 win shares in 2018-2019), that's a difference-maker for a team that has missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons.

As we begin a new Mavs season, where the main focus will mostly be on the health of Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic making a leap from year-one to year-two, don't forget to watch big man Marjanovic do quick, efficient work when you get the chance.

Comments (10)
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David Lord
David Lord

"His body is so massive it can't handle more than 10-15 minutes a game."

That's not supported by the evidence. The reason he doesn't play more minutes has to do with (a) matchup issues that make him less effective, and (b) the fact that "advanced" (ie all-in-one comparative) stats don't really do a great job of telling the whole story after all even though that is what they claim to do. In particular, half of the game - defense - is not accurately included, nor is there a reliable objective manner by which to measure the positive or negative of the on-court impact on teammates.

Matt Galatzan
Matt Galatzan

Editor

It is supported by the evidence of people his height and weight in the NBA's bodies falling apart earlier than most. Yao Ming, Shawn Bradley are just a couple of examples. Yea he 3 inches shorter, but the wear and tear of carrying around that frame is a real thing.

Is that the only reason he is playing 10-15 a game? Certainly not. But it is a contributing factor.

David Lord
David Lord

Matt, your point that the extra big man can tend to have less career longevity when used heavily is valid.

BUT that isn't WHY Boban is used so sparingly. And that was my point.

Boban has never been used heavy minutes. He's just not good enough to merit play like that, or at least he hasn't been so far.

Players like Yao and Shawn were never limited to just a few minutes because they were big. Yao AVERAGED about 33 minutes a game and over 2200 minutes per year for his first 7 years, playing about 33 mpg. Shawn Bradley averaged over 1900 minutes for his first 8 years. Neither were limited to 10 or so minutes, like Boban has played. In Bradley's least used year in his entire 12 year NBA career, he played more than Boban played in the year Boban has been used the most (only 681 minutes, last year)!

An NBA team who only employs a player for a year or two is going to use them as long as they are effective, and sit them otherwise.

Boban's biggest obstacle is matchups, because he's slow,. Against some opponents, he can be a really good role player. Against others, he's overmatched and less effective, so he plays little or not at all. And since he's slotted as a backup role player, his minutes also get extended when there are injuries to others on his team, and shortened when everyone is healthy.

As a result, his minutes have varied wildly (rather than having some sort of physical wall) - in some games he won't get to play at all, in others he may play over 20, in others he may play just a few, in others he may play 10-15, he's used like any other role player who is needed more in one game and less less in another.

Dahlsim
Dahlsim

I think his body is part of it but not entirely. He's able to play more minutes and at times has done so, even started some games when a starter is out.

The limiting factor comes on defense, when teams immediately start trying to exploit him in the PnR and perimeter game. They try force him off the floor because they do know he can really hurt them on offense.