Olynyk has, as of this writing, established himself as a better player than Larry Bird and monuments to him are being erected throughout Boston. Tough luck for the Mavs, right? Maybe they’ll have better luck this time around. With how this year’s draft class is shaping up, that’s a likely outcome.
So, who should Dallas draft? That’s the big question on our staff’s mind right now, obviously. This morning’s email conversation about just that proved too good not to share with you, lovely readers. Step behind the curtain and see how the sausage is made here at MMB.
Bailey (@BRogers789): Someone tell me I'm not crazy, Markkanen makes no sense for the Mavs, right?
Ian (@SmitheeMMB): He makes some sense. He's maybe the best shooter in the draft and offensively in terms of style he's a lot closer to Dirk than most of the recent pretenders.
I don't think he'll be necessarily the best talent on the board and I know it's become trendy to shit on him a little after his tourney performance, but there was a period in mid-January or so where he was arguably the best player in college basketball.
Josh (@Boweman55): If they draft him I quit the site.
Bailey: I'm just not sure how you build a team around three frontcourt players. You've already got Barnes and Noel soaking up a ton of minutes at the 4 and 5, even if you have Barnes starting at the 3. Plus who is going to get them the ball?
Sam (@SamGuertler): I read somewhere he could be Ryan Anderson 2.0, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since.
Ian: I'm not saying it would be my first choice, but there's plenty of minutes for those three guys. Barnes is probably best at the 4 but you don't want him there full time. If Carlisle is good at anything it's mixing and matching to find the right lineup combos.
Why would you say you can't build around three frontcourt players? Almost every championship team has been built that way, no? The Warriors might be an exception but they probably aren't the model you want to copy. Curry is just a generational talent.
Dallas needs to come out of this draft with the best player, period. There's enough depth at PG that I suspect they'll fill a top need as well, but if there's something medical that pops up with Dennis Smith or Ntilikina or whoever, and Markkanen is the best guy left by their determination, then hit that pick. They're way too far away from sustainable contention to worry about roster construction.
Danny (@DannyWebster21): I like Markkanen, but I liked him before Dallas traded for Nerlens. He doesn't make sense for what Dallas wants to do.
Josh: I get that they need as much talent as possible and can't be picky, I just don't like Markkanen at all. I'd rather roll the dice on Frank, who I don't really like that much either, and he should be available at nine no matter what.
I'm basically hoping one of Fox/Smith/Isaac fall somehow.
HOT TAKE ALERT:*
If they get top-3 and Fultz is gone, I want Jackson. Even if Ball is available.
Danny: Give me Josh Jackson any day of the week, twice on Sunday.
Sam: Cuban and LaVar Ball tho...
Ian: Nobody had Thon Maker going at 10 last year. A team in the 5-8 range could totally fall in love with Ntilikina in private workouts. Or Dallas could find some reason to dislike him.
If Markkanen is in the Ryan Anderson 2.0 neighborhood, that's a pretty solid return for a 9th pick, sorry to say. Obviously I'm all for going with biggest upside but getting too carried away is only going to lead to heartbreak.
Danny: I think I'm too strung up on how to best utilize Harrison, and I'm in the ballpark of not putting Markkanen in a position to go against athletic fours unless there's enough defense to hide his deficiencies. I really like him, but everyone would have to be gone for me to be totally on board.
Dalton (@Dalton_Trigg): I know I've been a De'Aaron Fox fanboy for the last few months, but am I crazy to want the Mavs to draft him even with a top-3 pick?
Ian: I'm not trying to be a Fox hater or anything, but he has two kinda big red flags: he's super, super thin (under 170 pounds, which would make him lightest guy in league over 6'3), and he can't shoot at all. The John Wall comparisons kinda fall apart given Wall is way longer, solidly built, and is at least reliable from midrange.
I wouldn't throw my laptop at the wall if they got the #3 pick and took him, but it's not a move without risk. For me, if they got the #3 pick and Fultz-Ball were gone, it would be a choice between the best player available (Jackson) or the top PG (Smith).
I think Smith can at least be a decent three-point shooter. His big problem was that NC State had no talent around him and by the end of the year he was jacking up shots trying to keep his team in the game. Assuming his medical stuff clears, he could be super dangerous in the Mav PnR-heavy offense.
Jackson, as others have said, would also be a homerun. Analytical models aren't quite as high on him as the more traditional scouting world, but he's the next surest bet after Fultz, and his upside is arguably higher.
Josh: My top three pick preference (if no Fultz, so 2 or 3 pick) is:
Jackson, Isaac, Ball, Smith
From there the conversation was sidetracked and slid into slight contempt for Rebecca’s ocean view from her office window.
But there you have it. We don’t know what the Mavs will do on draft night but if they pick any of these players you’ll be ready for it.
*Editor’s note: Josh has a lot of hot takes.