Countdown to the Draft: Draft Day

Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

The final piece in the Countdown to the Draft series comes with continued trade rumors swirling and Dallas' real strategy a mystery.

The draft is here!

The action starts live on ESPN at 7:30 eastern time. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been on the clock for weeks now and it is still unclear which direction they are leaning in. Nerlens Noel has been the default prediction in most mock drafts, but there is no clear-cut #1 pick here.

The Dallas Mavericks pick at #13, and will probably go on the clock sometime between 8:30 and 9 PM. For weeks, Dallas has been rumored to be shopping their pick(perhaps along with forward Shawn Marion), and those rumors may have got louder today with Chris Broussard's article detailing Dwight Howard's desire to leave the Lakers.

For Dallas, trading their pick to save cap space is by no means unprecedented. Infact, they did it in each of the last two seasons, in moves that both at the time and certainly in hindsight appear motivated entirely by cap numbers. Of course, Dallas does not have to trade their pick to avoid a cap obligation, and the "draft and stash" of an international prospect has been another popular prediction for Dallas.

Interestingly enough, in Chad Ford's latest mock draft(number 79 of 84), he has Dallas selecting a domestic player: Trey Burke of Michigan. Burke has been long considered a top ten pick, so this comes as a rather sudden drop. Dallas has a clear need at point guard, and although Mike Fisher has reported the Mavericks' preferred point man is Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams, Burke is a well-known, accomplished collegiate player who could probably step in and contribute right away. His name recognition could, alternatively, make for an easy trade asset, should Dallas decide not to keep their selection.

Somehow, I have a hard time seeing Burke fall all the way to #13. But, every year there is at least one player who falls farther than anyone thought, and one player who goes higher than anyone thought. It's a circus.

Stay tuned to Mavs Moneyball for coverage, analysis, and discussion of draft night, and check out the draft thread for what others are saying about who the Mavs might pick. I will update with a breakdown of the selection, when/if it comes. In the meantime, here are my top ten guesses on who Dallas takes.

10. Trey Burke

- Burke is a fine prospect, but if he drops, it will be over concerns over his(lack of) size and athleticism. On paper he makes a lot of sense for Dallas, being a fine pick and roll operator and a low-mistake guy who can space the floor.

9. Giannis Antetokounmpo

- One of several international men of mystery, Antetokounmpo(and boy, if he is a Maverick I'll have to learn to spell his name) has been billed as a point forward with huge upside that's a long way from being reached.

8. Shane Larkin

- Larkin is another undersized point man, though unlike Burke, he appears to be a fine athlete. The son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, Shane might fit a need, but I think at #13 there will be better players available.

7. Steven Adams

-Adams divides scouts and statheads. Scouts see a raw, unpolished kid with poor instincts. Stats see a strong, 7 foot 19 year old who rebounds and blocks shots as well as any center not named Nerlens Noel.

6. Shabazz Muhammad

- My selection in the SB Nation Mock Draft, it seems now that Muhammad has at least a decent chance to fall to the Mavs. The question is: if his draft stock is falling this much, will Dallas want him, knowing he may not be easily tradable?

5. Gorgui Dieng

- For years considered raw, Dieng enters the NBA fairly polished, and at best is one of the players with the highest floor projected to go in the teens. A true center, Dieng could be a solid role player for a rebuilding team, though there has not been a lot of noise connecting Dieng to Dallas.

4. Rudy Gobert

- The impossibly tall Frenchman has been working out in Dallas, so the Mavs probably have a very good idea of what he's all about. That may work against Gobert, though, because there is not a lot of flash to his game beyond his size.

3. Dennis Schroeder

- Schroeder's stock has gone up and now seems to be headed down, perhaps partly because Schroeder shut down his workouts after meeting with only a handful of teams. Dallas was one such team, and I would bet that if Schroeder performed well at the workout, he'll be a target, either at #13 or perhaps as a tradeback option.

2. Michael Carter-Williams

- If he's there, I'll bet Dallas runs to the podium. Once the Pelicans go on the clock, we'll see what happens. Carter-Williams is versatile enough that he could probably fit with any of the teams in the 6-12 range.

1. Sergey Karasev

- At the end of the day, Karasev is the prospect getting the most trade buzz, and that makes him the guy most likely to be taken. A young sharpshooter, he could also be an option to keep, as well.

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