It's nearly here. The event you've all been waiting for or were barely aware was about to happen.
The 2012 NBA Draft will be televised on ESPN at 7:30 PM ET from the Prudential Center(site of what Mavs fans are hoping was Deron Wiliams' final game as a Net). I will be there representing Mavs Moneyball, and you can follow me on twitter(@SmitheeMMB) for live updates and instant analysis/opinion on the festivities.
A quick refresher course: The Dallas Mavericks are slotted to pick 17th. Barring a trade, Dallas should make their pick sometime around 10 PM ET. Trade rumors are coming fast and furious now, as it appears many teams are shopping picks, and there has been buzz around the NBA water cooler that Dallas may have an interest in trading up, though ultimately I see that as unlikely. Here is what you need to know:
- Fab Melo was in town working out with Dallas last week, making him the second prominent center prospect to be linked to Mavs workouts in a span of days. So, one can reasonably assume that the center position is, at least, on the radar for Dallas.
- Arnett Moultrie also reportedly had a private workout, notable primarily because it was his second look for Dallas officials. Now, there have been some that refer to Moultrie as a center, but keep in mind, he weighed in at a little over 230 pounds, and he is not a seven footer, so, in the short term, he projects as a forward. Worth noting also is that he did not block many shots at Mississippi State, despite his size and athletic ability, so he may not be the Tyson Chandler-esque defensive fit for Dirk that many fans appear desperate for.
- Royce White was reportedly due for a Mavs workout, but this was before White cancelled his remaining workouts, leading to speculation that he has a promise from a team(the most popular guess at this stage is Boston, with one of their two picks at #21 and #22). I don't believe White ever got to Dallas, but we'll keep an eye on that story.
- According to DB.com, West Virginia's Kevin Jones also had a workout with Dallas. The big man was one of college basketball's most productive players last year, averaging a double-double as a senior, but he is projected as a second round pick due to a perceived lack of projection and athleticism. It will be interesting to see if Dallas plans to actually use their second round pick on a player, instead of a draft-and-stash guy as they have in years past.
- Breaking the string of big men, Will Barton also has apparently worked out for Dallas. Barton is an intriguing guy, a thin, athletic swingman from Memphis, who is floating a little under the radar at the moment. Since the start of the draft process he has been lumped in around the back-end of the first round, but he may be a guy who could move up on boards late, given the drop off of two-guard talent outside the lottery. At best he is a dark horse pick for Dallas at the moment, but for those who want to see a wing player brought into the fold, he may represent the best reasonable option.
- As mentioned earlier today, Houston has traded Chase Budinger to Minnesota for their 18th pick. The growing story right now, which might end up overshadowing the entire draft proceedings, is that this is a prelude to a play for Dwight Howard. I think Houston is one of the few teams that would probably have the stones to acquire Howard without assurance of him signing an extension. They have been one of the most unlucky teams in the league, perpetually too good for the lottery but not good enough to make the playoffs(in the West, anyway), and they have a smart, savvy, risk-taking front office. Even if they don't get Howard, bet on them doing everything they can to make a major move this offseason, perhaps on draft night. How does this impact the Mavs' pursuit of Deron Williams? Well, at this stage, we don't know, but probably not much. Dallas will still make its big pitch, and even if Dwight ends up in Houston, since his camp at this point is vehemently opposed to signing an extension, a big part of the Mavs' pitch to Deron can still be the possibility of assembling a Big Three in Big D in 12 months time. Barring a trade to Brooklyn, or perhaps the Lakers, Dwight Howard still seems destined to test the free agent market.