The Dallas Mavericks are finally tanking, and if the draft was to be held today, the former NBA champs would most likely select a big man to address their frontcourt problem. Fortunately for the Mavs, the incoming crop of NBA hopefuls features a bevy of potentially game-changing behemoths who fit into the unicorn mold.
Ever since the arrival of 7-foot wonders Kristaps Porzingis, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Joel Embiid, the NBA has become fascinated with bigs who possess guard-like agility and efficient strokes from beyond the three-point line.
The rise of the Golden State Warriors, who racked up two NBA championships in the last three years using positionless basketball, has necessitated the search for players who can play multiple positions on both ends of the floor.
It’s not only Daryl Morey and the league-leading Houston Rockets who are obsessed with beating the Warriors, so are the other 28 NBA teams and each one of them is looking for a player who has the upside to single-handedly shatter the champ’s “Death Lineup” of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green.
After a string of playoff runs and one NBA championship with Dirk Nowitzki as the centerpiece of the team, the Mavs have finally realized that it’s time to change guards. Even Mark Cuban admitted that the Mavs have no choice but to tank for the remainder of the 2017-18 NBA season. The Mavs’ owner addressed his team’s future in an interview with Julius Irving on House Call with Dr.J Podcast on Tuesday.
“I’m probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren’t competing for the playoffs. I was like, ‘Look, losing is our best option. [Commissioner] Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them.”
Dallas officially started their rebuilding in 2016 when they acquired Harrison Barnes from the Warriors in a cap-clearing trade that facilitated the arrival of Kevin Durant in the Bay Area. The Mavs then added another piece to their youth movement last summer when they selected dynamic guard Dennis Smith Jr. at No. 9 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.
This June, the Mavs can bring one more future cornerstone into the fold as they are very much in a position to get a lottery pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony released the latest issue of the 2018 NBA Mock Draft, and so far there aren’t any major movers in the top five with Slovenian sensation Luka Doncic still the consensus No. 1 pick while big men DeAndre Ayton of Arizona and Mohamed Bamba are expected to be chosen with the No. 2 and No. 3 picks, respectively.
The Mavs are hovering just outside the top five at No. 8, and they are projected to pick another mobile big in Wendell Carter Jr. The Duke Blue Devils standout is averaging 14.4 points and 9.6 rebounds in 27.4 minutes per game while shooting an outstanding 58.4 percent from the field and an equally impressive 48.6 percent from three-point territory. Aside from his already above-average offensive game, scouts are also lauding Carter’s defensive versatility, which enables him to protect the rim (2.2 blocks per game) and defend pick-and-rolls.
For the Mavs, finding the right big man who can complement the skills of Smith Jr. and Barnes will be crucial for their ongoing rebuild. Few would argue that 18-year-old Carter Jr. is the best available frontcourt prospect at No. 8. At 6 feet 10 inches tall, the Duke big man has the mobility, defensive skills, and outside shooting to thrive in the modern game.
However, with still 25 games left on their schedule, the 18-40 Mavs can improve their chances in the lottery, especially if they continue to drop more games. After all, landing somewhere in the top five would bode well for the Mavs since they will have a better shot at snatching up one of the elite prospects in the upcoming draft class, which includes Ayton, Bamba and Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr.