Key Draft For Mavs
In six days, the 2015-2016 season begins for the Mavericks and the 29 other NBA teams with the draft. More often than not over the last 15 years, the draft has been a time for Mavs fans to either yawn because they didn’t have a pick, or gnash their teeth because the scouting process ultimately yielded something less than a full time player, let alone an all star. Indeed, since Josh Howard and Devin Harris were selected in 2003 and 2004, the Mavericks have pretty much been in an oh-for in the first round. Roddy Beaubois in 2009 provided some rookie hope, but his injury issues never allowed him to fully develop.
The Mavericks will tell you that they were at a point where draft choices as currency in potential trades were more important than draft choices as viable commodities for their roster, but with a fourth consecutive year of major turnover likely to occur, and with Dirk Nowitzki entering the twilight of his career, the draft HAS to matter to the team now. They’ve got to get younger; they’ve got to become more athletic. They’ve got to be able to hit on quality people, whom they can control at an affordable price moving forward.
The second half of the season, and the loss to Houston in the playoffs displayed beyond any doubt that the Mavericks need help. And they need help in multiple areas. So much help that it’s not likely to be solved in a single draft or free agent period. Indeed, look how long it took the Warriors to put together their championship roster. It started with the drafting of Stephen Curry in 2009. Klay Thompson was added the next year. Draymond Green two years later. The Mavericks haven’t come close to that type of draft quality, but fortunately for them, when you consider their needs at both guard spots, it appears almost impossible for them to NOT be able to hit on their pick at 21 in the first round. The caveat for fans should be to not expect an All NBA player, but a player who can contribute and be part of the rotation. Indeed in 2015, of the 15 players making the All-NBA teams only two players, Marc Gasol and DeAndre Jordan, were selected below number 11. But there are players who can fill the bill.
If you’re looking for point guards: Duke’s Tyus Jones and Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant could very well be there. Grant is bigger, more athletic, and a better shooter, but anyone who watched Jones perform in Duke’s biggest games couldn’t help but be impressed. There are reports that the Rockets are ready to promise Jones to take him at 18 if he hasn’t already been taken by then. But as former Mavericks coach Don Nelson famously said “If you see my lips moving at this time of year it means I’m lying.” Delon Wright of Utah has Grant’s height, although slighter in build. Grant is a better offensive player, Wright is the better defender. Both have NBA pedigree. Grant’s father is Harvey Grant who played a decade in the NBA. Wright is the brother of Dorel Wright of the Trail Blazers. If you’re looking for a shooter: Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter could be your guy. While he shot just 30 percent as a junior from three point range, he was a 40 percent guy the year before when he wasn’t constantly being hounded by opposing defenses. Virginia’s Justin Anderson was a terrible shooter his first two years, but as a junior shot 45 percent from three, and he is a tremendous wing defender with requisite NBA size to play. The Mavericks need size on the perimeter to be able to guard, let alone be able to shoot to spread the floor.
Those are five quality players, one of whom will be sitting there when the Mavericks draft around 9:00 pm next Thursday night. Any one of them figures to help make the Mavericks a better team in 2016, but which is the best choice? That’s for Donnie Nelson, Keith Grant, and their scouts to ferret out.