DALLAS — He served as a mentor for the Dallas Mavericks’ young core last season, taking a bevy of the team’s first- and second-year players under his wings while accepting a leadership role in the locker room. However, after admittedly going through a shooting slump, veteran swingman Wesley Matthews says he entered this offseason with a goal of bettering his own game prior to the 2017-18 campaign.
Last season, Matthews averaged 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists an outing while playing in 73 games. He also connected on just 39.3 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from behind the three-point arc, failing to accomplish his goal of bouncing back from a lackluster first season with the Mavericks after battling his fair share of injuries. Now, Matthews says he hopes to return to the court a better player than he was the previous two seasons simply by incorporating yoga and other new training techniques to his summer conditioning program.
“Get better. It’s the same thing as every offseason,” Matthews said when asked his goal for the summer shortly after the conclusion of the ’16-17 campaign. “I’ll take time to reflect, but I’m probably not going to take as much time off as I usually do. I’m going to try to incorporate different training methods and stuff that I haven’t done. I try to do something different every offseason, so right now yoga is on the top of my list as far as just trying to keep my body fresh and give myself every advantage that I can.”
Signing a reported four-year deal worth $70 million in July of 2015, Matthews was eager to redeem himself after rehabbing his way back from a torn Achilles tendon that ended his ’14-15 season after 60 games with Portland. He then battled through the injury during his first campaign with the Mavs, averaging 12.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 78 appearances throughout the ’15-16 schedule while shooting 38.8 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from three-point range.
Matthews, 30, now hopes to have more offensive production this season as the Mavs try to rebound from a 33-49 record. And after displaying leadership and lockdown defense during his first two years in Dallas, Matthews says he expects to showcase a more all-around skillset in order to lead the team back to the playoffs.
“I want to be able to do everything,” the eight-year veteran proclaimed. “I want to be the most complete basketball player that I can be, and with the shooting slump that I had there were still ways that I had to be effective on the court. You know, energy, leadership and defense, that’s always going to be a part of it. But being able to get other guys shots and get other guys open, I take pride in that as well. I take pride in being a basketball player, and hopefully I can keep adding that to my game. That’s something that I feel I have in me.”