The Dallas Mavericks made a lot of moves in yesterday's NBA draft, and most of us are still recovering from the chaos. The final piece of the puzzle for Dallas' night was just finalized this morning. Providence guard Ricky Ledo, the 43rd pick in the draft, will be a Maverick.
Who is Ricky Ledo?
Well, to be perfectly honest, I don't think any of us are sure yet.
Ricky Ledo grew up in Rhode Island, in a violent, urban environment. His father was shot when he was a child, and his brother spent time in prison. Ledo went to four different high schools(one of them twice non-consecutively), including St. Andrews high school with Michael Carter-Williams, and South Kent Prep in Connecticut, which has produced a host of NBA players(Andray Blatche, Mo Harkless, Dorell Wright, the Kings' Isaiah Thomas, etc). Though Ledo claims his reasons for transferring each time were legitimate, Ledo gained a reputation as a poor teammate and a selfish player in high school. Several high-profile teams that had been recruiting Ledo for years began to drop out of the picture, with whispers that his immaturity was too much to take on.
For some context on just how highly thought of Ledo's skills were at the time, despite these whispers, take a look. Ledo was ranked ahead of eventual #1 pick Anthony Bennet, as well as Marcus Smart, and just behind lottery selections Nerlens Noel and Steven Adams.
Choosing to stay close to home and attend Providence College, Ledo hoped to cement his status as first round pick, but after failing to meet academic standards, he was ruled a "partial qualifier", meaning he could practice with the Friars, but would be prohibited from playing in games. Despite this fairly serious setback, NBA teams continued to scout him all year, watching team practices and personal workouts on campus.
Ledo was still projected as a possible late first round pick, making his selection at #43 a high-value move for Dallas, but this may be massively underselling his ability.
When you check out some of his videos, there are lots of things to like. He has good size for a shooting guard at 6'6, and he can clearly shoot. Though he appears more "smooth" than "explosive", he is regarded as a fine athlete, and one who can handle the ball, create his own shot, and even pass a little. It's no surprise he appears so proficient as a dribbler, having worked out with the great God Shammgod(!!!) at Providence.
Offensively, his game garners universal praise.
On the offensive end, Ledo is nothing short of a superb talent, as he's an extremely potent scorer both attacking the basket and hitting perimeter jumpers.
Very advanced handle used to create separation ... Able to create his own shot from a variety of places on the court, adept at changing speeds ... Has a great ability to see the floor, willing passer ...
Defensively, there is less consensus, but given the praise of his athleticism, size and basketball IQ, it isn't out of the question to think Ledo can be at least adequate at that end.
In the end, we still don't know a whole lot about Ledo, and likely won't until he steps on the court for Dallas(he is supposed to be ready to go for the Summer League). On the one hand, with no college experience, Ledo may need time to get anywhere close to NBA ready. On the other hand, he turns 21 in September, so he isn't likely to physically mature a whole lot more, and his game appears to be more skill-based than athlete-based. The wild card, as usual, will be if he works hard enough to impress notoriously rookie-averse coach Rick Carlisle.
The character concerns are loud, and hard to ignore, especially when a former coach is calling you "the worst human being I've been associated with on a basketball court". Truthfully, I am fairly surprised Dallas made this pick, since they tend to prefer high-character guys with good work ethic. This is almost the opposite of that, and I don't know if that means Dallas was satisfied with their research on his background, or if at so late in the draft they simply felt the reward outweighed any risk.
If Ledo's talent is real, and Dallas can tame whatever demons have plagued him, this could be one of the franchise's biggest steals, and a notch in their player-development belt(which is in dire need of some damned notches, if you ask me). What's more, hitting on a few high-ceiling guys might go a long way toward changing the organizational philosophy about player acquisition. So, let's all hope this kid comes ready to play.