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Three weeks ago on Monday, when the Mavericks suited up for a preseason opener against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Mavericks' 43rd pick Ricky Ledo posted a stat line of three points and two turnovers -- so minimal someone reading the box score might have read right past it.
But it didn't matter what the stats were, but rather, the fact that they were kept.
See, Ledo hadn't been in a game of organized basketball since playing high school ball for South Kent School his senior year -- a year and a half ago in the spring of 2012. It's been a long time since there were public stats available for swingman who was on the Providence College team but ruled academically ineligible for the year.
Maybe he should have stayed in school, got the credits he needed (he attended four high schools in four years) and developed his game against players of his talent-level. If he bottoms out in the next few years and never sees the light of day in the NBA, surely that will be a life-long regret. But regardless, Ledo is here now.
The 21-year old has talent, if the video's any indication. Strengths include a mechanically sound jump shot, great handles and a 6'7" frame that can be filled out in an NBA weight room (although unfortunately, his wingspan is relatively short at just 6'8").
But if his preseason performance was any indication, Ledo has a lot to catch up on. Regardless of how you feel about the NBA banning high school kids from the draft, it was done because of the massive learning curve between the two levels. Very few players are able to travel straight from one to the other, and Ledo, who essentially skipped college, is one of them.
He needs time more than anything. If he hasn't realized already, he'll soon learn he's only an average NBA athlete. His jump shot is off to the right start, but needs to be more consistent. He has to add muscle. Most importantly, he has to learn how to translate his skills to an NBA level. As a solid playmaker in high school, playing time is the best way to help him succeed against narrower windows and tighter angles.
But none of this is a bad thing, not when you consider Ledo was a 43rd pick. The Mavericks have had issues with the draft over the years, but they played this one just right. This is exactly the type of player to nab late in the second round.
The other main option you have once you reach the tail end of the draft is a polished player with little upside. But the Mavericks already went down that road last year. They picked up Jae Crowder and Bernard James. Did they need another bench player who might play some minutes here and there but has already topped out in terms of basketball development?
Ricky Ledo may not play a single minute for the Mavericks this year. In fact, he'd probably be better served to spend a majority of the season in the D-League recovering those college minutes he missed out on. Playing high school ball in 2012 just doesn't cut it.
But whether Ledo reaches the peak of his potential or not, I love the pick because I love the draft mentality behind it. This year, the Mavericks finally used its first round pick to grab a rotation player -- Larkin will go through a learning process like any rookie, but few would contest that he's ready for NBA minutes -- and reached for high-upside players later on.
Hopefully, this means the days of picking Jared Cunningham, Dominique Jones or Maurice Ager in the first round are over. Guys who could, could be quite good but never panned out. And hopefully it means that the team will stop grabbing Jae Crowder and Bernard James in the second round and expecting them to be rotation players. It's a flawed draft strategy -- but this year, they finally played it right.
Ricky Ledo's future could go in virtually any direction at this point, but I'd love to see him succeed. And I'd love for the Mavericks to finally start using their draft picks as weapons, rather than just a much-less-valuable assets. It's about damn time.