The NBA Draft is tomorrow night, and while the lion’s share of attention will be on what happens at the top of the draft with the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Joel Embiid (especially how far Embiid falls after breaking his foot last week costing him the next four to six months), the Mavericks won’t have a chance to participate until the second round where they own picks 34 and 51. Their first round choice was sent to Oklahoma City to complete the Lamar Odom trade, and while the Mavericks could certainly have picked a good player at 21, it was even more important for them to cede the choice, thus opening up more room for them in free agency, and in the trade market, as they now have the ability to know what pick they can deal in order to help complete a larger trade.
This is a VERY good draft. As deep a draft as any since 2003. There are going to be some very good players who fall into the second round where the Mavericks are going to be able to find them. Players who might actually be able to do for them what Jae Crowder (drafted 34th in 2012) has been able to do in his two years in the league. The Mavericks need another wing player, and preferably one who defends. Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early could very well be around when they pick, and indeed watching him reminds you a lot of Crowder when he was at Marquette, except that Early has played more on the perimeter so he wouldn’t have to make a huge adjustment. C.J. Wilcox from Washington is another wing player who fits the mold, an excellent shooter as well as a good defender with good size.
The most difficult position for NBA teams to fill is center. It’s why when teams have the choice between a center and other positions, more often than not they take the big man. If you hit on that player, it can change everything. In the past, it has been rare to find a quality big man in the second round because of that premium, but the last few years have seen the likes of DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, and Nikola Pekovic selected with the 35th, 48th and 31st picks respectively. A player who has gained significant buzz as the draft approaches is Walter Tavares, a 7-3, 265 pound native of the Cape Verde Islands, who has only been playing four years, is regarded as extremely raw, but whose skill has grown markedly. The jaded Mavs fan who has seen this franchise strikeout on such foreign “bigs” like Chris Anstey, Pavel Podkolzin and Bruno Sundov probably wants nothing to do with Tavares, and is probably looking for someone who will produce immediately. But in that never ending quest to find a young big man, I wouldn’t be surprised if the trigger is pulled. Canadian Jordan Bachynksi, a 7-2 255 pounder out of Arizona State, is another who could find his name called by Mark Cuban and company.
Of course, as in everything, perspective is needed. While the Mavericks would like to (and might find) a player or two who can contribute, the Draft is nothing but a warm-up act for the free agency period that starts Monday at 11 PM, and the signings and trades that are sure to follow. Coming off a thrilling finish to this past season, everyone can begin the process of getting excited all over again.