In the 2018 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks found the player who could potentially replace Dirk Nowitzki as the next face of the franchise – Luka Doncic. From the time they saw him play on the court, the Mavericks already knew that Doncic is bound to become a legitimate superstar in the NBA. During draft night, the Mavericks decided to engage in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks to have a strong chance of acquiring the European sensation.
Despite the Hawks' asking price, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban gave general manager Donnie Nelson the green light to push through with the deal. But if Nelson got Cuban's full trust in selecting players in the past drafts, the Mavericks might have already become a legitimate title contender in the Western Conference right now. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, Nelson tried to convince the Mavericks' front office to use the No. 13 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft to select Giannis Antetokounmpo but Cuban refused.
"Five years earlier, during the 2013 draft, Nelson and his longtime international scout, Tony Ronzone, pushed for the Mavericks to use the No. 13 pick on a little-known Greek teenager named Giannis Antetokounmpo. Cuban wouldn't allow it, given that Antetokounmpo, unlike Doncic, was mostly a mystery — and promptly regretted it as Antetokounmpo blossomed into a star in Milwaukee. So this time, after the disappointment of the lottery, Cuban blessed Nelson to do whatever it took to land Doncic."It's hard to blame Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for doubting Antetokounmpo's ability during that time. Unlike Doncic, Antetokounmpo had been a huge mystery before he entered the NBA. However, after seeing him play right now, Cuban must be regretting his decision to block Nelson's proposal.
From being the No. 15 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Giannis Antetokounmpo has turned himself into one of the best active players in the NBA. The 24-year-old power forward had recently earned his third All-Star selection, where he was named as a team captain. Also, Antetokounmpo is currently one of the frontrunners to win the Most Valuable Player award for the 2018-19 NBA season.
In 56 games this season, Antetokounmpo is averaging 27 points, 12.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.4 steals on 58.1 percent shooting from the field. As of now, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are trying to protect the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference as they are aiming to make their first appearance in the NBA Finals since 1974 and end a decades-long title drought.
The Mavericks may not be considered a legitimate title contender this season, but they are now heading into the right direction. Aside from drafting Luka Doncic, the Mavericks also acquired Kristaps Porzingis in a blockbuster deal with the New York Knicks before the February NBA trade deadline. The Mavericks have a strong belief that the tandem of Doncic and Porzingis could bring Dallas back to title contention.