In the midseason trade that brought Nerlens Noel to Dallas, the Mavericks gladly gave the Philadelphia 76ers what amounted to two second round picks in this year’s draft. With their only remaining pick slated at No. 9, Cuban & Co. could call it an early night on June 22nd.
But what if they found a way back into the second round? In a draft that boasts a depth of talent that extends past the first round, what if the front office felt motivated enough to get involved?
The Mavericks are pros at draft night trading. Typically, they trade backward to select a player who may or may not ever set foot in the AAC (see: Tanguy Ngombo, Darius Johnson-Odom, and Satnam Singh Bhamara, among others) in an effort to make room for guys like Deron Williams (back in 2011), Lamar Odom, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge... a draft-night strategy that has clearly panned out.
But more recently they’ve started taking the draft seriously and have even found success with undrafted young players. I am not going to attempt to project how the Mavs could grab an additional pick or even the likelihood of that happening. But if they did, a few standout players who could help the team in the long term will likely be available late in the first or early in the second.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
Tyler Lydon (Syracuse)
6’9”, 215 pounds, 7’ wingspan
13 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 block in 36.1 minutes per game
A sophomore combo forward with NBA range, Lydon would work well spreading the floor in Carlisle’s system as a spot shooter (he hit 40 percent from three at Syracuse). He has decent size and wingspan and would work best as a small-ball power forward.
Lydon has deceptive athleticism and the ability to play above the rim, combined with quality contributions as a passer and rebounder. There are some questions about his strength and how the Syracuse zone defense mindset will translate to the NBA. But he’s the sort of role player who could come off the bench and contribute immediately.
Potential ceiling: Nikola Mirotic with a vertical
Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State)
6’0”, 185 pounds, 6’5” wingspan
19 points, 6.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals in 29.3 minutes per game
The Mavs will obviously be hesitant to add another undersized guard to the roster. Still, Oklahoma State sophomore Jawun Evans would bring tools to the offense that aren’t currently there. Evans is an elite scorer and distributor, excelling in the pick and roll, the core of Carlisle’s offense. His per-40 averages (26 points and nine assists) highlight his vision and floor-general mentality.
The front office would have to make some roster decisions if Evans is selected (moving Harris and/or Barea), but if the Mavs were to take someone other than a point guard with the ninth pick, Jawun Evans would be a great value selection later on.
Potential ceiling: Kyle Lowry
Jordan Bell (Oregon)
6’9”, 225 pounds, 6’11”+ wingspan
11 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks in 29.1 minutes per game
The 2017 PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year would be a solid addition for the Mavericks. As a junior, Jordan Bell had a productive season for the Oregon Ducks, but he burst onto the national stage during the NCAA tournament, averaging 12.6 points, 13.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game en route to the Final Four. If there’s any doubt that a player can take over a game from the defensive side, find video of the block party he hosted in the Elite Eight against Kansas, logging 11 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and EIGHT BLOCKS. EIGHT!!
Offensively, he contributes in transition and around the rim. But Bell’s defensive versatility (he can guard multiple positions), elite rebounding and ability to protect the paint—alongside Nerlens Noel—could be vital to the future Mavericks.
Potential ceiling: Serge Ibaka
Semi Ojeleye (SMU)
6’7”, 241 pounds, 6’9”+ wingspan
19 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists in 34.1 minutes per game
There are few players entering the draft who have the kind of NBA-ready muscular frame that SMU junior Semi Ojeleye possesses. After getting lost in the shuffle on two talented Duke squads, Ojeleye broke out in his single season at SMU. He’s the sort of combo forward that every NBA team looks for: he has range (42 percent from three), plays physically, and has explosive athleticism.
At 22, Ojeleye is one of the “old” guys in the draft, and some will naturally question his ceiling. But his positional versatility would be useful playing behind Barnes and Dirk , filling the role Carlisle has been looking for from Powell: stretching the floor on offense and providing hard-nosed athleticism across the floor.
Potential ceiling: DeMarre Carroll
Frank Jackson (Duke)
6’3”, 202 pounds, 6’7” wingspan
10.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists in 24.9 minutes per game
After sustaining a stress reaction in his right foot during his freshman season, Frank Jackson just had surgery with the expectation of being ready for summer league action in July. That means teams won’t be able to work him out privately, even though he impressed scouts at the combine.
Jackson is a combo guard with true scoring ability. His range combined with an explosive athleticism that allows him to get to the basket would bring a solid penetrating dynamic to the Mavericks offense. His size most likely dictates that he’ll play point guard, so his ability to distribute will have to grow. But the possibility of playing Jackson and Seth Curry interchangeably on and off the ball, both being playmakers, would make for a fun backcourt.
Potential ceiling: Cory Joseph