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Roundtable: Who the Mavericks should draft if they land at No. 5

Is Michael Porter Jr. the clear-cut favorite?

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Nashville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

If the season ended today, the Dallas Mavericks would have the fifth best odds of winning the NBA Draft lottery. Assuming Dallas doesn’t move in the lottery, who should the Mavs take with the No. 5 overall pick? We asked our staff:

Say the season ended today, and the Mavs officially end up with the fifth pick in this year’s draft. If DeAndre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marvin Bagley III are gone, whom are you taking at No. 5?

John (@JohnHowe_NBA): I haven’t dove into their shooting numbers yet, but there are two guys I want to learn more about. There’s also a third I just don’t know anything about. In no order, I’d like to see Collin Sexton, Wendell Carter Jr, and Džanan Musa more than I would Michael Porter Jr.

My only praise for Carter is that he’s a ball handler and that’s critical to NBA success but he also just seems so much more skilled than Mohamed Bamba does to me. Sexton and Dennis Smith Jr. could team up incredibly well, and both have enough size to play together and guard twos. I would love a combo like that.

Musa is intriguing because he seems able to get buckets. Lots of buckets. I’m excited to dive into all of these guys when the time comes.

Dalton (@dalton_trigg): I’ll take my chances with Porter Jr. at No. 5. I still believe he has the highest ceiling in this draft if he can fully recover from his back surgery. A 6’10” wing that can create his own shot is exactly what the Mavs need in today’s NBA. To me, Porter has the potential to be the next Kevin Durant. Both he and KD are the same size and have a very similar skill set, and I really believe health is the only thing that could keep Porter from making an immediate impact from the jump.

It’s a shame that we didn’t get to see him play a full college season before having to evaluate him as a draft prospect, but this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Mavs. If Dallas picks at No. 5, and Porter is still available, I just don’t see how they can pass up on that kind of versatile player with that high of a ceiling.

Jordan (@JBrodess): Picking fifth in the lottery, though a great opportunity, is a sticky flip in my class rankings. I don’t doubt that this class is seven or eight deep with high-level players. However, identifying whether to take a project with a lot of potential or a player with less risk but a lower ceiling is a tough call.

The projects are Michael Porter Jr. and Mo Bamba. You hope MPJ is a no-brainer is at five. This pick is a long play no matter what so I’m not concerned about the product we saw on the floor the last two weeks. Yet, questions about his ability to regain his agility and explosiveness are real.

As for Bamba, I think he is probably the closest fit to what the Mavs expect from centers, but his offense has a ways to go.

The stable options with lower ceilings are the Bridges squared (Miles and Mikal) and Wendell Carter Jr. I’ll be honest; I wanted the Mavericks to draft Miles Bridges last summer before he withdrew.

Carter also grew on me. He’s not as exciting as Bagley is, but he has a solid game and I’m in that camp that feels he might have a better pro career.

Finally, Mikal Bridges is the prospect I fell in love with more than any other (outside of maybe Jaren Jackson Jr.). He unquestionably fits in Dallas—and nearly any other team—and pairs perfectly on the perimeter with DSJ and Barnes. I have no doubts about his game; the only question is if you’re missing value at five. Bridges will be a great pro, but he’s still more than likely an elite role player. If you want a safe bet take Mikal, if you want to hit a homerun (and you probably should) take MPJ.

Sam (@SamGuertler): After Michael Porter Jr.’s SEC and NCAA tournament performances, it’s clear that he is now entering project pick territory. It will probably be a year before we can determine if MPJ will recover any of the elite traits that made him a sure-fire prospect before his injury.

As for Mo Bamba, the knock on him, like Jordan said, is his offense has a ways to go. That doesn’t concern me if he’s a Maverick though. The Mavericks never operate their centers out of the post. They use them to screen and roll hard to the rim. Bamba can do that. He also has potential game-changing talent on the defensive end with his almost legendary length. I also don’t think Bamba will have as many issues as people think sliding into the center role in Dallas. He’s naturally gifted, and Rick Carlisle seems to get the most out of his players—if they’re willing to put in the work. That’s another concern with Bamba, but I think his potential is too good to pass up at five.