You may have forgotten, but just a few seasons ago Wes Matthews was regarded as of one the top two-way shooting guards in the NBA.
Known around the league as the “Iron Man” 1 — Matthews is the definition of a gamer. He is a player that is tough as nails, often taking it upon himself to guard the opposing team’s top perimeter offensive options. He competes like his job is on the line every night.
As an undrafted free agent looking to break his way into the league, Matthews early career helped define who he is as a player today. His durability and “will to win” are two characteristics every basketball team wants out of a player. During his first six seasons, he had consecutive games played streaks that totaled 146 and 250 games respectively. There is no denying that Wes Matthews pours out everything onto the court whenever he steps onto it.
Yes, he did blow out his Achilles in March of 2015. Often labeled a “death sentence” for a basketball player, Achilles injuries tend to reshape one’s career. The NBA track record for players who have played at a high-level coming off an injury of that nature is non-existent. The league has little to no historical data 2 backing up that a player can play at or near an all-star level, yet the Mavericks still ponied up all-star level money towards Wes Matthews.
The deal was officially a 4-year contract worth $70,060,260 million dollars. The contract has a player option for the 4th year for $18.6 million. Matthews 4-year $70,060,260 million-dollar deal was reportedly $13 million dollars higher than what they offered if DeAndre Jordan had stayed committed with the Mavericks.
The Mavericks moved a significant portion of their chips into the middle of the table betting on the Iron Man. When signed, Matthews was thought to be a cornerstone piece to the Mavs, alongside Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons. Matthews entered his first season with the team (understandably) out of shape due to the injury. Moving to a new team in a new city, into a new role, combined with an injury, Matthews accomplished a fair amount, but he felt like he could do more. Parsons departure after Matthews first season with the Mavs may have been a blessing in disguise as he jokingly told the media during last year’s media day, “I get to guard my position this time. I can finally guard two-guards.”
Much like his first season with the Mavs, Matthews struggled to find much rhythm in year two, specifically with his shot.
Matthews should be your prototype 3-and-D wing, lockdown defense with range on his shot. He’s hit 368 out of 1,004 three-point shots in just two years as a Maverick. Maintaining his solid play on the defensive side of the ball to go with 200+ 3-pointers would be huge for the Mavs. If he can garner some consistency on his jump shot, he will be a lethal weapon out on the perimeter with Seth Curry, Dennis Smith, Jr., and Harrison Barnes.
It’s clear that Matthews has been motivated his entire career. It all started by getting undrafted leading to Utah not matching his restricted contract offer after his rookie season. After establishing a career for himself in Portland, the Achilles tear led to the Blazers opting to pass on him in Free Agency. Matthews motivation has been properly fueled.
Critics around the league are viewing Matthews as an overpaid asset at this point. Matthews is currently the 52nd highest paid player in the NBA for the 2017-2018 season, per Basketball Reference. During Matthews last fully healthy season in Portland, he ranked 5th in the NBA in 3-pointers made with 201. Since he’s joined the Mavericks, he’s finished 10th and 17th in 3-pointers made.
With his offensive production slightly dropping off, Matthews will be asked to contribute in different ways offensively. He will need to be willing to set hard screens, freeing up players like Dirk, Harrison Barnes, and even Dennis Smith, Jr. He will need to battle for second chance points through offensive rebounds. Defensively continue to be who he is, an elite NBA defender. If Matthews continues to do the dirty work while converting 3-pointers at a high clip, we all know that he is worth every penny of his $70 million dollar deal. If not, the Mavericks may have to try 3 to move on from a player who was once viewed as a cornerstone piece.
- Matthews explained his nickname to OregonLive.com, “He’s human, but never appears it. That’s what makes him a superhero.”
- Dominique Wilkins is an outlier. He played in 71 games the season after his Achilles injury averaging 29.9 points and 6.8 rebounds. FREAK
- Which may be hard. Matthews will certainly exercise his player option worth $18.6M next season.
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