Don’t get Reggie Bullock twisted.
His smile lights up a room. Same with his laugh. His humble spirit and friendly demeanor can catch you off guard. He jams out to Lil Durk prior to taking to the court.
And oh yeah, he rocks the NBA’s toughest hairstyle.
But the 6-foot-6 veteran wingman is also a warrior. A fighter. A rough-rider. He’s a versatile defender, able to guard just about anyone on the floor. Leave him wide-open if you want, but that three-ball is likely going in.
Like his sports hero, the late, great Kobe Bryant, Bullock thrives on competition. So much so that when asked what is the best part about competing, he didn’t hesitate in his response: “Stopping that motherf***er!”
It’s that tough mentality that has helped Bullock find his rhythm on the court, solidified his role within a surging Dallas Mavericks team and aided in a resurgence of his professional career.
Since joining the Mavs last offseason, the 31-year-old Bullock
has become a key role player. He's also become a starter for a Mavs
team that has exceeded expectations. He has averaged 12.9 points
and shot 39% from three-point range. Meanwhile, the Mavs have put
up 50-plus wins for the first time since 2015, finishing the season
at 52-30 and landing at fourth place in the Western Conference.
They’ll have homecourt advantage for the first round of the
playoffs, which begin Saturday against the Utah Jazz.
Bullock’s been an integral member of this Mavs team that zeroed in on players of his caliber when adding to the roster in the offseason.
“We definitely wanted to improve shooting, and then also versatility,” Mavs GM Nico Harrison said earlier in the season. “We wanted players that can play and defend multiple positions.”
Bullock and his teammates have wholeheartedly bought into incoming coach Jason Kidd’s defense-first mindset. The team finished this season second in the NBA in fewest points allowed (104.7 points per game) and seventh in defensive rating (109.1). Last year, they finished 21st (112.3).
The chemistry Bullock provides, especially in the starting lineup, his reliability on both ends of the floor, his skilled ability to switch and his solid defense can’t be ignored. In fact, defenders have to play him so close, a gust of wind can barely blow between them. His, “I’m about to shoot” look and stance creates instant space for Luka Doncic and others to go straight into attack mode.
“I hang my hat on my defense. I take it personal,” he said earlier this year. “If a player scores on me, I try to do something different on the next play. I'm a competitive player, and I try to do anything I can to help this team on the offensive and defensive end.”
That said, Bullock struggled early in his Mavs tenure, which he equates with trying to find his rhythm and a sense of consistency with his shot.
“I went back and looked at shots I’ve been shooting since I've been in the league and shots that I shot over these past few seasons. It’s the same shot. It’s just all about not thinking about it and being confident when taking those shots.
“My advice to myself is to see it before it goes in,” he
continued. “Just believe that I’m a great shooter and stay within
That advice seems to have paid off. Since January, he has found both his shot and the confidence to shoot it. This has resulted in success during several key games, including a record-setting one against the team they’ll face Saturday, the Utah Jazz.
In January, he came off the bench for one of his best games as a Maverick, scoring 23 points (including 6-of-8 from three-point range) en route to a 132-105 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
In the Mavs’ 110-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 21, Bullock started after missing four games for personal reasons and finished with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting (all from three-point range) and 7 rebounds. Six days later, in the Mavs’ 114-100 victory over the Jazz, Bullock hit a season-high 7 threes, tying his previous best in scoring with 23 points (8-of-12 from the field, 7-of-11 from three), 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 35 minutes of action. It was a performance that was right on time.
“Over the last two games, I was struggling from the three, but my team continued to give me confidence,” Bullock said after that game. “I believe I’m one of the best shooters in the league when my feet are set and I get arch on it at the same time. I just have to keep that confidence.”