At this point, the Mavericks failures in drafting are becoming so frequent that it's almost more impressive that they keep striking out. Honestly, has any NBA team been as proficient in one aspect of team building like the Mavericks have, good or bad? OK, OK, the Kings still pace the field in front office buffoonery and the Spurs talent evaluation is unparalleled.
Other than those two? I don't think any NBA team has been as good or as bad at one thing like the Mavericks have been bad at drafting the last 10 years. More proof came this month -- former first-rounders Jared Cunningham (24th pick in 2012) and Shane Larkin (18th pick in 2013) will not play in the NBA this season. Cunningham will be in China, Larkin in Spain.
With those two departures, that means the only first-round pick from the Mavericks this decade that is still in the league is Justin Anderson, drafted in 2015. All the first-round draft picks from 2009 till now aside from Anderson are plying their crafts overseas while the Mavericks keep trying to get the plastic bag that is the draft unstuck from their head.
The worst part about Cunningham and Larkin were how obvious their NBA failures would be. Cunningham was a 6'4 shooting guard that couldn't shoot or play point and Larkin was a 5'11 point guard with one of the worst wingspans in the 2013 draft combine. They represented the nadir of the Mavs absolute fetish-level interest in combo guards -- players who could play neither guard position or play against them on defense.
While the league trended toward small-ball, the Mavs took it too literally. They focused on the wrong things, with Cunningham's athleticism and ability to get to the free throw line nixed by his horrible shooting and Larkin's good shooting and point guard play neutered by his terrible length and ability to guard his position consistently. Among those two and Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones, the Mavs were obsessed for over a half-decade with shooting guards who couldn't shoot and point guards who couldn't play point.
Cunningham never proved the Mavs wrong, drifting among a couple teams before the league realized a two-guard with a 3-point percentage barely scraping 30 percent probably isn't the best idea. Somehow Cunningham has as many rings as Dirk Nowitzki because he was a member of the Cavs this past season for 40 games which is a war crime. Cunningham played one season with the Mavs, playing in eight games totaling 26 minutes before being traded on draft day in 2013. Reminder, the Mavs could have drafted Terrence Jones.
Larkin at least showed some potential. He averaged 10 minutes a game, played in 48 games and at least showed some semblance of NBA quality in his limited burn as a rookie, having good bounce in the pick and roll and good awareness on offense and defense, even if his body was too limited to really make an impact. At the very least the Mavs extracted some real value, including him in the Tyson Chandler trade. As much as us Mavs fans cry wolf over all the choices the Mavs could have had in 2013 (Dennis Schroder, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Shabazz Muhammad) it's an almost certainty that whoever they picked would have been included in that Tyson trade.
To further Larkin's credit, he wasn't bad last year with the Nets. He averaged about seven points and shot well enough from the field (44.2 from the field, 36.1 from three) but still couldn't get an NBA contract this summer when GMs were handing them out like candy. Larkin being out of the league at least prevents the Mavs from taking any more Ls from disgruntled parents of their draft busts.
So to recap: only one first-rounder from this decade still in the league. Overall, just three first-rounders total are still in the league (Dirk and Devin Harris are the others) and they weren't even technically Mavs draft picks! Hopefully in a decade's time we can point back to Anderson's selection as the turning point of the Mavs sad, sad history of drafting.