Given yesterday’s rumor that the Mavs are serious contenders for Jrue Holiday, it seems worthwhile to discuss what the Mavs’ pursuit of Holiday might mean for the Mavs’ outlook on the availability of a point guard in the NBA Draft and whether they might have a better option in free agency.
I’m getting nervous about the draft. I ran into Coach Carlisle at a restaurant on Tuesday and interrupted his lunch to personally beg him not to draft Lauri Markannen for the express reasons that Jordan Brodess discussed here. He responded by saying, “Oh you don’t like Markannen, ok. The guy in the glasses at Wheelhouse doesn’t like Markannen. I’ll write that down,” and by the way, if you’ve never had the privilege of being lovingly roasted by Rick Carlisle, let me tell you it is just as good as advertised.
Like most Mavs fans I’m desperately hoping that there is a lottery level backcourt player still available when the Mavs draft, but it may not shake out that way.
The Sixers like both De'Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jr. for the third pick, according to sources.— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) May 24, 2017
When the Mavs pick, De’Aaron Fox will almost surely be gone. Sacramento has all but promised to take him at five if he’s still there. Dennis Smith Jr. is getting looks from both Philly and Orlando, and the Knicks have expressed some interest in Frank Ntilikina. It’s not impossible that by the ninth pick there might not be any points guards left for the Mavs to take.
Fortunately, the 2017 free agent class is chock full of quality point guards. Some, like Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry, are way beyond the Mavs’ means, but Jrue Holiday certainly isn’t. And as it was reported yesterday, Dallas may have already been doing some leg work on this front. I think there’s at least one other free agent point guard who should be on the Mavs’ radar: Jeff Teague.
Both Holiday and Teague are unrestricted free agents and they have eerily similar stat lines. Last year, Holiday averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists per game while shooting 45 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. Teague’s 2016 line was identical, except that he averaged one more assist per game than Holiday and shot a percentage point worse from the field. Both players are dyed in the wool NBA point guards — they’re capable scorers when they need to be, but their first focus is running the offense and getting others involved.
The important difference between the two that the Mavs need to consider is durability. Teague played all 82 games last season and has never missed more than 16 games in a single season. Holiday on the other hand, dealt with a troublesome stress fracture in his shin back in 2013 that caused him to miss a total of 90 games over the next two years. In the 2015 and 2016 seasons he was able to play 65 and 67 games respectively, but injury concerns remain a question mark going forward.
However, the reason the Mavs are rumored to be going after Holiday rather than Teague may come down to Teague’s contentment with his current team. Holiday is widely rumored to want a fresh start after several hard seasons in New Orleans and all the tumult surrounding the Boogie trade. And who could blame him? Teague, however, is from Indiana and has stated publicly that he’d like to return to the Pacers if possible. There are, however, significant question marks about where the Pacers are going as a franchise. With Larry Bird stepping down and teams already queuing up to acquire Paul George next season, perhaps there’s a chance for the Mavs to slip in a bid for Teague, but in terms of likelihood, Holiday seems like a surer option.
I hope the Mavs are able to snag Dennis Smith Jr. and put him to work immediately, which would make bringing in a free agent point guard unnecessary. But if the Dallas doesn’t get their point guard of the future in this draft, either Teague and Holiday would make a great starting point guard for your Dallas Mavericks.