Published On: Wed, Aug 24th, 2016

Wes Matthews: 'I feel better than when I got hurt'

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Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

His first year was a write-off.

Wesley Matthews was billed as the prize free agent for the Dallas Mavericks last summer, but having suffered an Achilles tear months before his deal, the 29-year-old wasn’t quite right. He looked hobbled, and his production dipped significantly from his time with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Now recovered, Matthews hopes to make a better impression on the Mavericks in his second year.

“I’m a whole different person,” Matthews told Earl K. Sneed of “I’m a whole different player, and I’m really just excited to get out there and show it, and just to be who I know I can be and just to continue to grow.

“Obviously, it was different coming off of an Achilles (injury) and not having four or five months to prepare and all that stuff, and jumping right into the season being physically able to play every single game and play heavy minutes. It took until about after the All-Star break for me to get my legs back, because I play both ends of the court. And I feel better than when I got hurt.”

Most players need at least a year before they return from a torn Achilles, but the self-professed Ironman lived up to his nickname by making 78 appearances last season. He clearly wasn’t at his best, but made no excuses.

That being said, Matthews’ productivity tailed off. He shot career lows from the field (38.8 percent) and from deep (36 percent), and averaged the fewest points of his career since his rookie year (12.5).

Most of that is to be expected with an Achilles tear. The first season right after the injury is usually the toughest to handle – especially given how aggressively Matthews pursued a comeback.

So with the injury behind him, he hopes to lead a reconstructed Mavericks squad back to the playoffs.

“This is me, and I’m pretty sure Dallas is going to love me. I’m going to try and inflict my personality on this team as much as possible. I don’t care who we’re playing against, who it is, what number back to back it is, if it’s on the road, what the record was, or the team we’re playing. We don’t care, and we’re coming at you.

“But what motivated me is I know that I have so much left in the tank. I know that I have a ceiling that I’m not even close to reaching, and I’m trying to get there. I want to get there, I want to ascend, and I feel like I have. I love this game, and the best way to pay it respects is give everything you have.”

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