The Mavs are now 1-10 start this season and barring an upset, their next win is nowhere in sight. Is it too late to start dreaming about the top prospects in the next NBA draft? Probably. But given how awful the Mavs have looked early on, we have a legit reason to start debating who they should potentially take with the No. 1 overall pick. We asked the staff:
If the Mavs end up with the first pick in the draft, who do you want them to take and why? That being said, where do you think the Mavs actually end up in the draft order by this season’s end?
Jordan (@Jbrodess): This is all so tough to predict this early in the NBA season. I said the day the schedule was released that I didn't think the Mavs would win a game in November. But here's the reality: eventually the schedule will let up. Eventually they will start falling into wins. Probably mid season. Without knowing how the front office will handle the roster, the Mavericks will most likely end up with a top 7 or 8 pick.
But if things continue south, and then somehow they end up with the top pick, if today was draft day I'd want them to select Luka Dončić. We'll dive in to more of this soon, but his maturity and versatility at such a young age is staggering. He fits perfectly with DSJ and Barnes and has the ability to play three positions. Athleticism may be a question, but he's clearly the most progressed prospect as of today. But there's a lot of ball to be played to see who emerges as the perfect fit.
Dalton (@dalton_trigg): Boy, the Mavs sure did pick a good couple of years to have the bottom fall out, didn’t they? Last season, they were able to cash in on a loaded point guard draft by selecting Dennis Smith Jr. This season, they should be able to do the same, only that this time around, the draft will be loaded with athletic, versatile, potentially franchise-altering big men. That list includes Marvin Bagley III, Michael Porter Jr., DeAndre Ayton and Mohamed Bamba. Luka Dončić is also a very intriguing euro prospect and could very well be the best in the class.
If the Mavs do end up with the No. 1 pick, I think they should go with Bagley. He’s 6’11”, 220 lbs and is extremely athletic. The more I learn about Dončić, the more I like him, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt for the Mavs to add a guy with Bagley’s size who can do stuff like this:
When it’s all said and done, I think the back half of the Mavs schedule this year will allow them to win some games, decreasing their chances of getting that top pick. I think they’ll end up in that 5-7 range and probably draft a guy like Jaren Jackson Jr. from Michigan State. Between 70 more NBA games and a full college basketball season ahead, things can change. So we’ll just have to be patient and see how it pans out.
Nick (@NickVanExit): On Monday's (11/6) Locked On Mavericks Podcast we half-begrudgingly discussed our Top 5 Draft Prospects in the 2018 Draft and I chose Luka Dončić. It's kind of hilarious that he's the only player whose league is currently playing games. and he's seemingly the consensus No. 1 pick in most places--when the NCAA season begins I expect others to overtake him. The fit with Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes isn't seamless, but a player like Dončić changes the playing style for a team that desperately needs an identity. To me, he looks like a slightly taller Lonzo Ball with a fixed jumper.
Also, isn't Donnie Nelson just throwing flaming darts at a photo of Mark Cuban every time Giannis drops 35/9/9? It's been well documented that Nelson intended on drafting the international phenom prospect before Cuban stepped in and wanted the Mavs to clear cap space for a big-time free agent big man... Anyone else having deja vu?
Josh (@Boweman55): I have no real opinions on who the Mavs should draft because college season hasn't even tipped off yet and things can change a ton. Dennis Smith Jr. was a top-3 lock before his freshman year and we know how that turned out. So since he's the only dude we've seen play against real competition up to this point, give me Dončić and his ability to be the missing positional wing link between Smith and Harrison Barnes.
Where are the Mavs going to pick? I think top-3 is a lock as well. The Mavs are really bad! I'd say wait till Seth Curry returns before giving a proper evaluation but the team is currently 1-10 and they won't be potentially favored in a game till Nov. 29 against the Nets and even then they might be underdogs. This record is going to be a lot more lopsided before Seth can even get on the floor.
Ian (@SmitheeMMB): Those kind enough to have already read my early draft preview will know I am enraptured by the thought of a Smith-Dončić-Barnes trio, but since so many have picked DDončić in this roundtable, I'll try to make a different case. Dončić may be the better fit with Dallas' other top young players, but in a vacuum Michael Porter, Jr. may be the better prospect. I say "may" because, obviously, Porter, Jr. hasn't played beyond high school yet, where he was clearly not challenged by his less developed/less talented peer group. That goes to the general caveat that all of this is kind of at best sloppy guesswork at the moment, pending information update. Still, what little I have seen suggests Porter, Jr. is as good a pure scorer as this draft has, with some playmaking and defensive versatility at the defensive end, as well. If he has a Kevin Durant-esque freshman season, you surely have to take him.
Coming into the season, my feeling was that Dallas would end up with the 10th or 11th worst record in the league, and pick somewhere in the 9-12 range. As bad as the early season start has been for the Mavs, that's far from beyond their means. If they wind up picking in the back half of the lottery rather than the front half, I think my guy is Miami's Bruce Brown. He's a bit of a sleeper pick, but he had quietly had a really nice Freshman season last year for the Hurricane, and if he builds on that success, I could see him moving up. If the gains Brown saw as a shooter in his transition to college were real, then he compliments Dennis Smith, Jr. extremely well, as he can defend either guard spot, be a secondary ballhandler/playmaker, and then spot up for three when off-ball.