LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 08: Jared Cunningham #1 of the Oregon State Beavers tries to walk on someone's face. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
What you probably already know: Thursday night, the Dallas Mavericks traded the rights to #17 pick Tyler Zeller, along with swingman Kellenna Azubuike, to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the rights to Jared Cunningham(24th), Bernard James(33rd), and Jae Crowder(34th). They then sold their 55th pick to the Lakers, concluding their haul for draft night.
As mentioned, by shipping off Azubuike, and moving down in the draft(and thus lowering the cap hit of the pick), Dallas has lightened their financial burden for next year as they head into a critical offseason. For the better part of the last half-decade, Dallas has shied away from risk-taking in the draft, preferring to manage their assets carefully and avoid losing big at the betting table they view the process to be. The guys Dallas drafted were not tremendously high-upside picks, and some of what were perhaps "sexier" and better publicized prospects were passed over in the process. I did notice a few people at the draft media table scratching their heads.
Now, does this mean we should consider the night a failure(and let's put aside the idea for a moment that judging these drafts minutes after completion, as so many pundits and talking heads do, is completely absurd)? Of course not. Are there, perhaps, implications about what might come next? I think so. What does the organization envision for these players? We'll try to give some insight below:
Over at SB Nation's Dallas Cowboys blog, Blogging the Boys, there is a popular meme regarding Head Coach Jason Garrett's philosophy of acquiring players who are the "Right Kind of Guys"(RKG's). This means players who love the game, who take their job seriously, who are willing to do whatever it takes to help the team. That sort of cliche'd rhetoric might fall on deaf ears for some of you, especially a certain Redskin-loving moderator who clearly can't comprehend winning football, but I think Dallas definitely got three RKG's in this draft.
Carlisle on the picks:
"He's a premium athlete and a playmaker that we feel can make plays at both ends of the floor...We feel like Jared's a guy that's very good and going to get better. We feel he has a chance to be exceptional here. He's a terrific kid and loves to play."
"We're very proud to have a guy that served in Iraq and served our country. He seems like a terrific kid. He's an athletic shot blocker who played on the best defensive team in college basketball at Florida State. He's a guy that can protect the rim and protect the paint."
"We feel he's a multi-position player. He's rugged, tough-minded, hard-nosed. We wanted to get some hard-playing, energetic guys in this draft to continue to work that culture here. High character kids who play hard and want to do things the right way."
One other thing should be abundantly clear: all three of these guys can probably come in and play defense in the NBA, right now. Both Cunningham and James were first team All-Defense in their conferences, and Crowder, in addition to being Big East Player of the Year, was considered one of the better perimeter defenders in the draft. So, in theory, you've bulked up(and, on a sidenote, Jae Crowder is ripped, and raised the 185 pound bench press 20 times at the combine, more than any player) your defense at guard, either forward spot, and center.
Clearly, this is what Dallas wanted to accomplish with the draft: bring in supplemental pieces that fit their scheme and could be plugged in immediately and counted on to do their job. Now that the Lamar Odom saga is over in Dallas, we shouldn't take it for granted that accountability is not a trait found everywhere. As I told the guys(and gal) here at MMB on draft night when we were emailing, free agency will bring the quality, this draft can bring quantity. Dallas needs bodies, and, as we've said before, with two non-guaranteed contracts for the second rounders, Dallas also has flexibility to make adjustments accordingly once the free agency bonanza begins.