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Gian Clavell Impressing In Early Preseason Games

Editor Dakota Schmidt writes about how GIan Clavell has impressed during the preseason.

NBA: Preseason-Milwaukee Bucks at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Mavericks signed Gian Clavell back on August 2nd, he was initially looked at as a player that would likely spend time with the squad in training camp and preseason before ultimately getting sent to the G League. Clavell might’ve been a good offensive player during his time at Colorado State, where he averaged 20.4 points on 43% from the field and 39% from 3 as a senior, but the Mavs regular season roster already seemed set in stone before training cam even started. Aside from them having 13 players under guaranteed deals, it seems like a certainty that they would have guard Dorian Finney-Smith and veteran big Jeff Withey fill out their final two positions.

Although his future with the big league club might seem doubtful, that hasn’t prevented Clavell from working his tail off during preseason. In the Mavs’ first three preseason games, he’s stood out as one of the team’s leading scorers as he’s put up 10.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists on 39% from the field and 43% from beyond the arc on 4.7 perimeter attempts per game. While he could definitely be more efficient, those stats show that Clavell has been able to stand out in an area where most unsigned players don’t get an opportunity to.

Every time that Clavell has stepped foot onto a court during preseason, he seems focused on giving headaches to the opposing team. From an offensive perspective, that mindset has been evident by the activity that he shows onevery possession. Clavell is always aggressive in his attempt to try to get an open look as he just loves working around off-ball screens. Once he does that, he releases a smooth catch-and-shoot jumper, whether its from either mid-range or beyond the arc.

When that method doesn’t work, Clavell isn’t afraid to try to break down the opposition with his own dribble moves. While shot selection could definitely improve, it’s been fun to watch him play with this much on-court spirit.

Clavell’s energy has also been evident on the other end of the floor as he’s stood out as a pretty aggressive ball hawk. Averaging 2 steals in 21 minutes per game, he’s been able to force most of those turnovers by showing superb awareness and quickness as a pick-and-roll defender. As evident in the play below, Clavell does a great job of being able to quickly work around an off-ball screen before he jars the ball loose from the opposing Bulls guard.

Unfortunately, that strong play may not push Clavell closer to making the team when the regular season begins in 12 days. As previously mentioned, the Mavs have 13 players on their roster under guaranteed deals, while both Dorian Finney-Smith and Jeff Withey are likely to fit the last two spots due to their experience (Withey) or comfort within the organization (Finney-Smith). Even if you look past that, conventional wisdom would point to him getting cut as the team already has seven backcourt players signed to guaranteed deals. While it’s technically possible for him to get signed to the Mavs last two-way deal, sources tell Ridiculous Upside that those chances are slim.

If/when Clavell does get waived, he’d have the opportunity to either sign an overseas deal or join the Texas Legends, the Mavs G League affiliate. Although he could probably make more money if he moves to Europe, it seems like Clavell is committed on staying in the states to make those NBA dreams come true. That statement is due to an interview that Clavell did with Denver Post in mid-May.

“The dream is the NBA. Just because I get a little bit of a bump in the road, it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop and say, ‘I’m going to go overseas.’ No, man. If I have to go the the D-League, then I’ll go to the D-League. I’m going to do whatever it takes to make an NBA team.”

When Clavell did that interview, he stood as one of many solid prospects that would get overlooked in the following month’s draft. More than four months later, he has elevated himself by working his ass off and putting up decent numbers against NBA teams. Yes, that production has come in the preseason, which isn’t necessarily important in the grand scheme of the long NBA season. However, I think Clavell has utilized the preseason to show the world that he might belong on an NBA roster.

While it may take some time in the G League before he can make those dreams come true, there’s no doubt that Gian Clavell caught the attention of folks throughout the Association.