Athlete of the Week: Daniel Gafford

DALLAS, TEXAS - MARCH 13: Daniel Gafford #21 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after a basket in the first half against the Golden State Warriors at American Airlines Center on March 13, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. | Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford is this week’s Dallas Express Athlete of the Week after a monstrous performance across three games during which he nearly broke an NBA record.

Gafford averaged 16.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks throughout the week, coming up with 15 rebounds on Thursday and an impressive seven blocks on Wednesday.

He also made 33 consecutive shot attempts, coming up two makes shy of Hall-of-Famer Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 35 as he missed his first attempt of Thursday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I’m smiling from ear to ear on the inside just because of the simple fact that I had the chance to do it,” Gafford told the media after Thursday’s game. “It’s not my only chance. I don’t know how many games we have left in the season, but I’m for sure going to try to do that before the regular season is over with.”

Gafford has had a substantial impact on Dallas’ center position since he was acquired from the Washington Wizards at last month’s trade deadline — scoring in double figures in nine of the 12 games in which he has played, dominating the glass with games of 17, 10, 10, and 15 rebounds, and bringing energy on the defensive end of the court.

His presence has also greatly influenced rookie Dereck Lively II, who has been coming into his own in recent games.

Gafford has been in the NBA since 2019 and is enjoying his best season yet, averaging 11 points, two blocks, and nearly eight rebounds while shooting 73.2% from the floor between Washington and Dallas.

“What he’s done and what he’s brought to this team [is] not just on the offensive end,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd told the media. “The streak is very impressive when you’re talking about the likes of Wilt Chamberlain. Not too many people are in that air, so for Gaff to be there and be mentioned with Wilt is pretty special. But also on the defensive end, he’s a big part of that.”

Gafford and the Mavericks (38-29) will return to the court with a home game against the Denver Nuggets (46-20) at 2:30 p.m. CT on Sunday.

Runner Up

North Texas guard CJ Noland: Noland was the star of the Mean Green’s AAC Tournament win over Tulane on Thursday night with a career-high 23 points, shooting 7-12 from the floor and 4-5 from three-point range. He also had an incredible dunk that has blown up on social media.

Recent Athletes of the Week

Max Abmas

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