The 2016 NBA Draft is today!
At 8:00 Eastern, ESPN will begin its telecast live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Dallas currently holds the 46th pick in the draft, having forfeited their first rounder to the Boston Celtics in the Rajon Rondo trade (ugh).
The 2016 draft is considered by some to be a fairly weak draft, at least outside of the top-tier talent. One could make the argument that the difference in talent from the 20th best player to the 40th best player is pretty slim. That would seem to be an argument to stay put and just take the best player at #46, but it might also mean that the cost of moving up in to the early 2nd -- or even the late 1st round -- will be lower than in years' past.
What's also notable about this draft is the number of teams who have multiple picks in the first round. If one of these teams is looking to sell a pick, could Dallas be the beneficiary?
Philadelphia: owns 1st pick, 24th pick, and 26th pick in round 1
Boston: owns 3rd pick, 16th pick, and 23rd pick in round 1, plus 5(!) 2nd round picks
Phoenix: owns 4th pick, 13th pick, and 28th pick
Toronto: owns 9th pick, and 27th pick
Atlanta: owns 12th pick(following trade of Jeff Teague), and 21st pick
Denver: owns 7th pick, 15th pick, and 19th pick
If Dallas wishes to move up but stay in the 2nd round, where contracts are non-guaranteed, there are some options as well. Boston, Milwaukee and New Orleans all have a pair of picks in between selections 31 and 40.
So, after discussing at great length some of the late-draft prospects that Dallas has worked out worth keeping an eye on, let's play a sort of "lightning round" on a bunch of interesting late 1st/early 2nd guys that Dallas might consider worth trading up for:
Denzel Valentine, SG/SF, Michigan State
Until recently, the idea of Valentine falling out of the top 20 seemed absurd, but an MRI result on his knee has apparently caused some concern around the league, which may cause him to tumble a bit. I suspect a smart team will take a chance on him at some point in the top 25, and in truth I can't imagine how he'd fall past the Celtics at 23, but if if he does get in range of a trade-up scenario, Valentine could be a coup for the Mavs.
A super-skilled wing who had one of the better all-around seasons in recent college memory, Valentine offers shooting, passing, and an ability to step in and contribute right away. This would be a long shot, but crazy things can happen on draft night.
Patrick McCaw, SG/SF, UNLV
Speaking of versatile wings, Patrick McCaw is yet another one of those guys in the 25-40 range in this draft, and if he's available in the early 2nd, he's maybe my favorite guy for Dallas to target.
Physically, he resembles a shorter version of Corey Brewer: skinny, long, all arms and elbows, but very athletic and quick. Like Brewer, McCaw racked up steals at UNLV, but his offensive game is better developed at this stage than Brewer's was. McCaw displayed a good feel for the game, and the ability to pass the ball, shoot, and attack off the dribble.
Chinanu Onuaku, C/PF, Louisville
Typically, late first/early second round prospects tend to be upperclassmen with less upside, but Onuaku is an intriguing kid who is still 19. As expected, he's a little raw (especially on offense), and may not be as ready to contribute immediately on a team like Dallas, but his production suggests he's being devalued in the draft process.
A beast on the boards, Onuaku makes up for being slightly undersized with long arms and a great motor. He also blocked shots and posted one of the best steal rates for a big man in the country, which underscores his defensive mobility. With time, he could be a high-quality role player in the NBA.
Diamond Stone, C, Maryland
Stone is another 19 year old center, but in many ways he's a counterpoint to Onuaku. He's not a great rebounder and there are questions about his defensive potential, but he has an old school post-game and great touch around the basket, where he can finish with either hand.
He also started to show the makings of a nice midrange jumper, and as he already makes his free throws at a strong clip, it stands to reason he could eventually be a pick and pop guy. Stone's athletic limitations and post-up ability hurt him in the context of the modern NBA, but he has enough skill to find a role somewhere as a scoring big.
Caris LeVert, SG/SF, Michigan
I believe LeVert would be a first round lock if he had been healthy at Michigan. Instead, he's missed a majority of the last two seasons, and was still too banged up to participate at the combine or in workouts. He may also miss the Summer League, which is a critical tryout for a rookie, especially if he ends up in the second round.
When healthy, however, LeVert is dynamic, with all the tools you want from a swingman: he shoots (over 40 percent from college for his career), he has great size at 6'7 with long arms, and over time his playmaking skills really developed. If a team does their homework and clears him medically, LeVert could be a steal, but how soon he can play is still a question.
Jarrod Uthoff, SF/PF, Iowa
Uthoff is an interesting guy. He has a really nice mix of traits, but seems to be somehow less than the sum of his parts. He's very tall for a perimeter player at 6'10, with solid athleticism, and deep, deep shooting range. He also blocked over two and a half shots per game as a Senior at Iowa.
Yet his inconsistency has created a divide among scouts about where he should go (for example: Draft Express has him in the 50s on their prospect list, but Chad Ford at ESPN thinks he'll go in the 20s). Dallas desperately needs shooters, so I think he could be on their radar, but I suspect they'll need to trade up to get him.
Tyler Ulis, PG, Kentucky
If Dallas ends up staying at #46, they might be looking at point guard, as they worked out a host of college point men (and one guy who I didn't discuss who has been rumored to be working out for Dallas is Gary Paton II), but as we're talking about possible trade up options, there doesn't appear to be a lot of point guards in the 20-35 range that make sense.
One who might be there is Tyler Ulis, the diminutive leader of the Kentucky Wildcats. Ulis is 5'10 and 150 pounds soaking wet, but he was one of the most dominant players in college basketball this past season, thanks to a great feel for the game, supreme quickness, and an abundance of confidence. Ulis will no doubt have trouble scoring inside at the next level, but his ability to penetrate and facilitate make him a possible bench spark plug on the right team. You might be doubtful of his chances, but given all he's accomplished already, I'm not betting against him.