Welp, nothing to see here. After weeks of speculation, the Dallas Mavericks will wind up exactly where everyone thought they would, which is picking ninth in the NBA Draft coming up on June 22nd. Although this pretty much assures that Dallas will miss out on top talents such as Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson and Lonzo Ball, there are still plenty of talented options for the Mavs to choose from on draft night.
There are some mock drafts out there that assume the Mavs are in love with Lauri Markkanen, but I'm not buying it. Just because he’s a 7-foot white guy that can shoot threes doesn't mean he's the next coming of Dirk Nowitzki. There will never be another Dirk, and what’s more, he isn’t a good fit for the roster as currently constructed. Expect the Mavs to take a point guard, or maybe a wing.
The point guards that Dallas will be hoping they get a shot at in June are De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr., Malik Monk (technically a shooting guard, but I think he could be a good fit if he’s available) and Frank Ntilinkina (a raw point guard from France with a reported 7-foot(!!!) wingspan). Ntilikina is probably the most realistic point guard option for the Mavs at number nine. He’s got to become more assertive, but he’s also 18 years old and has plenty of time to develop. If it makes you feel any better, he could be the Giannis Antetokounmpo of this draft (not that I’m still bitter the Mavs didn’t draft Antetokounmpo himself when they had the chance).
Personally, I’ve been a huge fan of De’Aaron Fox for a while now, and even if the Mavs have to trade up a couple of spots to get him, that’d be fine by me if they could make it happen. Although Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball get the majority of the spotlight, I’ve thought for a while that Fox could potentially be the best point guard coming out of this draft, and if you ask him, he’ll tell you the same.
The other two non-point guard prospects that could potentially be available at No. 9 for the Mavs include Lauri Markkanen and Jonathan Isaac. We’ve already discussed the Markkanen speculation. I feel like Dallas would draft him only if he’s the best available prospect remaining, which seems unlikely.
Jonathan Isaac, on the other hand, would make a potentially scary future front court duo with Nerlens Noel. The 6’11” athletic forward from Florida State could be the best overall fit for the Mavs at power forward once Dirk decides to ride off into the sunset, assuming they see Harrison Barnes as more of a wing. With a 7’1” wingspan, Isaac could be every bit the headache for opponents on the defensive side of the floor that Noel is. While it seems like a long shot that Isaac would drop all the way to nine, if he did, it would be hard for Dallas to pass him up, especially if most of the point guards are gone.
Free Agency / Trades
How the Mavs use their draft pick in June will more than likely correlate with how they approach the rest of their offseason. If the Mavs take a point guard at number 9, it’s hard to envision them pursuing a guy like Jrue Holiday or Kyle Lowry in free agency, or Eric Bledsoe in a potential trade. If they do end up taking a big man prospect like Markkanen or Isaac, those other possibilities not only become more realistic, but also necessary if the Mavs want to start the new season with a legit floor general. I love Yogi Ferrell, but he can’t be your starting point guard if you hope to contend in the near future.
Even if the Mavs wanted to make a splash in free agency, it will be very hard to do so this summer, given that everyone assumes they will retain Nerlens Noel for a hefty price. The trade route would be the most likely way Dallas could make a dramatic difference in their roster this offseason.
It’s going to be a long summer, but at least now we know for sure where the Mavs will be drafting at. After June 22nd, we’ll have a much better idea of what Dallas intends to do to re-tool it’s roster for next season.