Merry holiday dead week! I hope you all had fantastic holidays, and are enjoying that awkward time between the December holidays and New Year’s Day. In the college sports world, the legitimate bowl games become the focus, as basketball shifts from boring non-conference games, to competitive conference slates.
As we dip our toe in the conference scheduling, keep in mind that though many of the names remain the same, the make-up of the lottery is still fluid, just like the Mavericks’ spot in the pecking order.
So if you need a break from the Dallas Mavericks’ schedule, or bowl games aren’t for you, take a peak at a couple of pretty intriguing prospect matchups this weekend.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29TH
Texas vs. Kansas (8 CT, ESPN2)
We called and he answered. Last Friday Bamba stood out against an inconsistent Alabama squad (sorry Avery Johnson) with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks. More of this please.
This Friday, Bamba gets his first taste of conference play, and there’s no easing in to it. Though the Kansas Jayhawks had a quiet first two months, they’re still Kansas. They have a mix of young and seasoned college talent, and Bamba will be tested. Look no further (because you may not be able to look around him) than 7-foot, 280 pound (!) sophomore Udoka Azubuike. How does Bamba’s frame deal with that kind of mass on both ends?
In terms of other players the Mavs should be tracking, since they currently have a protected second rounder (protected 31-55), look to Jayhawk sharpshooter Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. The 6’8” 20 year old senior is being given more opportunity this season, and he’s stepped up, shooting a very solid 45 percent from three (on seven attempts per game). He should be sitting on the board in the early second round, and has a ready made role as an NBA shooting wing.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30TH
Duke vs. Florida State (1 CT, CBS)
It’s been a while since we checked in on Duke’s merry band of freshman. Coach K’s Blue Devils had a small hiccup a couple weeks ago and played one game since: a 64 point win against Evansville. So. Yeah.
The headliner is still Marvin Bagley III. He’s been so consistent that it almost feels predictable and less impressive. But take a scan through Duke history and see that in Mike Krzyzewski’s 38 seasons with the school, only eight players have averaged 20+ points for a season. Of those eight, only two are big men (Christian Laettner in 91-92, and Danny Ferry in 88-89). And neither rebounded at the same clip as Bagley. So the 21 points and 11 rebounds per game he’s currently averaging is something special.
Still, it would be nice to see Bagley expand on the perimeter. He’s dominant around the rim, but will need to balance his game a bit to really hit his ceiling at the next level. The other freshmen - Wendell Carter, Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval - all sit on the edge of the lottery and are worth tracking; in addition to the controversial Grayson Allen, who has had a nice bounce back senior year.
Texas A&M at Alabama (5 CT, ESPN2)
After missing two games recovering from a practice concussion, Robert Williams is easing himself back in to game action. The athletic big man remains one of the more under the radar prospects of this class. He doesn’t put up huge numbers offensively, but is an elite rebounder, and has a place in the league as a rim runner. Pair that with the second longest wingspan of the lottery talent, and his defense, it’s clear why he continues to sit in the top ten of many big boards.
There are still a number of big men that I think better fit the direction the Mavericks want to go, but there’s plenty of time for that vision to become clearer. In this week’s matchup, A&M will be without their leading scorer, so it would be nice to see Williams ramp up his production. And with Bamba just recently putting up numbers against this same opponent, it will be nice to compare his line with Williams.
Arizona vs. Arizona State (8 CT, PAC12)
If you made it this far Saturday watching all these games, first, well done. Second, I don’t know, maybe go outside for a sec.
This one may be harder to access regionally, but it’s also one of the few premiere matchups of the day (Oklahoma vs. TCU is the other. If you haven’t watched Trae Young yet, you don’t love basketball).
Ayton is still being Ayton. He’s had some quiet games, but remains the best true center prospect in the class. If you want to compare like-opponents with the guys above, DeAndre Ayton put up 29 points and 18 rebounds against Alabama a few weeks ago.
Past the big man, Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins are still offenisve leaders on this bounce back squad, and are the type of reliable wings the Mavs should consider with their second pick.
Let us know down below who you’re tracking from this draft class!