This post was originally published July 2015, but it's still applicable this year.
The Mavericks' draft strategy that picks are assets and better off being turned into proven players isn't ridiculous -- not in its entirety. When the Mavericks were a team built around a young superstar under team control for years to come, adding veterans around him made a lot of sense.
Not adjusting that strategy as Dirk aged when the Mavericks could have really benefitted from an infusion of young talent is one of the reasons why the front office has been criticized. Another reason they've been criticized, though, is more simple: they've missed a lot of picks. Drafting Josh Harris and Devin Harris in back-to-back years was shrewd, but the most successful Maverick draft pick following those two was Jae Crowder. Followed by, I guess, Bernard James? It's just slim pickings at that point.
Some defend the Mavericks' strategy by saying their draft picks are low so that of course they'll miss players, but that's not entirely true. You can still find quality talent. Here's the all-decade team of players the Mavericks could have drafted but didn't. First, here are the guidelines I followed.
1. This exercise starts in 2000, with Mark Cuban's ownership of the team.
2. I count picks the Mavericks voluntarily traded away or dropped down on draft day.
3. This player has to be picked within five spots of the Mavericks. While it would be great if the Mavericks drafted Paul Millsap in 2006 or Marc Gasol in 2007, those guys went 47 and 48 respectively, not even close to the range of the Dallas picks that year.
Point guard: Dennis Schroder (2013)
Dallas had their highest pick in nearly a decade, no. 13, and traded down twice, settling for Shane Larkin, when either one could have been used on Schroder, who ended up being taken by Atlanta at no. 16. True, Schroder's not an All-Star or anything, and he probably would have been shipped away in the same trade Larkin was bringing Tyson Chandler here, but it's still discouraging to see which point guard of the two available they decided to go for.
Shooting guard: Jimmy Butler (2011)
With the no. 26 pick in the draft, still basking in the glow of an NBA championship just a few weeks earlier, the Mavericks couldn't do anything wrong that offseason, not in the moment. Looking back, though, we see a pick traded for Rudy Fernandez, who never played a single minute for Dallas. Instead, four picks later, Chicago selected Jimmy Butler, who was just elected to his first All-NBA team this year.
Small forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo (2013)
The Mavericks couldn't actually have Schroder and Antetokounmpo right now, but that no. 13 pick could have netted them either player if they wanted it to. You might remember that we've talked about the Mavericks passing on Antetokounmpo before.
Power forward: Draymond Green (2012)
Jae Crowder, poor man's Draymond Green, was selected with the no. 34 pick of the 2012 NBA Draft. Draymond Green, rich man's Jae Crowder, was selected with the no. 35 pick. Oops.
Worse? The Mavericks had two second rounders that year -- no. 33 and no. 34. They grabbed Bernard James before Crowder while the Warriors swept up Green minutes later. Double oops.
Center: Taj Gibson (2009)
We're going smallball! Gibson isn't really a center, but he'll work here. He was the no. 26 pick in 2009, taken one selection after Rodrigue Beaubois. (At no. 27, DeMarre Carroll was picked, but he took four years at the bottom of rosters before turning into the player he is with the Hawks now.)
For the record, I will always defend the selection of Roddy B. At no. 25 with the franchise on a strange trajectory, Beaubois was the home run ball, the secret French wizard they discovered and hid away from other teams to nab. Without the injuries, I think he could have been a top 10 point guard in the NBA.
Bench: Terrence Jones (2012)
Jared Cunningham was drafted at pick no. 24 while Jones went immediately after. One is a promising young starter for a division rival while the other is out of the NBA.
Bench: Josh McRoberts (2007)
Our resident Josh McRoberts expert, Doyle Rader, will be disappointed to learn the Mavericks could have nabbed him in 2007 instead of Nick Fazekas at pick no. 34. McRoberts went three picks later.
Of course I'm not trying to say every one of those players above should be Mavericks, because the draft is a mysterious thing and nobody bats even 50 percent, much less 100. But had they hit on just one of those starters, imagine how that could have changed things. Drafting well, no matter where your pick is located, is crucial for good franchises. Tonight would be a good time for Dallas to turn that around.