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Roundtable: the draft prospects Rick Carlisle would love and hate

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The Mavs should take the best player available, but the staff talks about the players who would work well with Coach Carlisle and those who wouldn’t.

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The Dallas Mavericks have only seven games remaining in the 2017-18 season, which means we’re close to knowing the team’s odds of winning the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Lottery. As we continue to dissect potential draft prospects, we look specifically at how some of these guys would mesh with Rick Carlisle. We asked the staff:

Regardless of where the Mavs end up picking in this year’s draft, are there prospects who would work better than others with Rick Carlisle’s style of coaching? Specifically, which prospect would Carlisle love to coach the most and which would he find most difficult? Explain.

Kirk (@KirkSeriousFace): The easiest guy that Carlisle would love to coach is Luka Doncic. He’s a tireless worker, seems to see the game at a different level, and is uber talented. He’s really the perfect mix. But the fact is, the Mavericks won’t be drafting high enough, so we have to set our sites lower. Mikal Bridges is my pick. He’s a bit older than every other prospect, which means he’s got better seasoning so the initial transition to the NBA should be easier. He defends hard and shoots well, that sounds like a guy for Rick.

In terms of players I’d be concerned with... well it’s basically the entire set of bigs that are draft eligible. Bigs are de facto rim protectors and have a harder defensive job in the team scheme. That means a smaller margin for error comparatively to guards. As we’ve seen for years, Carlisle tends to have less patience for bigs because of this and it just concerns me if Dallas takes any big man prospect.

Josh (@Boweman55): Kirk is on the nose with Doncic and Mikal — those are both high-IQ players that would seamlessly fit into Carlisle’s flow offense and while they might not be staunch defenders, they’ll pick up the schemes faster and that’s some Carlisle values. Since Kirk mentioned those two, I’ll go with Wendell Carter. He’d probably be the only young big that Carlisle wouldn’t immediately murder and he has such an all-around game that I think Carlisle would love to slide his versatility into the five. Nothing about Carter’s game wows me, but he has such a variety of skills as a big I can see Carlisle trusting him a bit more on both ends of the floor.

For the one we’d be concerned with, it is really any of the other bigs. In this case, Mohamed Bamba. The two bigs slated ahead of him, DeAndre Ayton and Jaren Jackson Jr., both at least have offensive skills that Carlisle can play with and Jackson is already a prime defender to boot. Bamba feels the most raw of the top-10 bigs and I can only imagine Carlisle going nuts whenever Bamba first gets over-eager to swat a shot and leaves open an easy drop-off pass. Bamba’s game on offense also doesn’t give him much leash, as much as Carlisle and the Mavericks optimize rim-rolling fives. I can just imagine Bamba being in the rookie doghouse a lot if the Mavericks decide to take him, even with his boundless energy and obvious defensive upside.

Jordan (@Jbrodess): Josh and Kirk have nailed these. I think Mikal Bridges and Wendell Carter scream Carlisle players. Their effort, versatility and IQ would work so well in Carlisle’s system. Bridges especially. Since they’ve been picked through, if I had to name a non lottery pick that he’d like, give me Khyri Thomas out of Creighton. Similar to Mikal Bridges, his length, his perimeter defense as his ability to hit the three would thrive under Carlisle. He’s everything RC wanted out of Jae Crowder, Justin Anderson and Dorian Finney-Smith. It’ll be tough to get him, because he’ll go late first round, but Mavs would be lucky to have him.

On the other end, there are plenty of players that make Carlisle want to destroy the franchise, for various reasons: Trae Young for his 40-footers, Robert Williams for checking out, Hamidou Diallo for all of it. But a player they may legitimately draft that would drive him crazy? I’ll say Marvin Bagley III. He’s the most explosive player on the block, but his game away from the basket is inconsistent, and I’m genuinely not sure if he has any foundation on defense. That alone would force Carlisle in to early retirement.

Dalton (@dalton_trigg): I agree that Luka Doncic would be the ideal player for Carlisle in this draft. Like Kirk mentioned though, that’s probably not a realistic option for the Mavs, barring some really good lottery night luck on May 15. So if we stretch him off the list, I actually think Carlisle would enjoy coaching Marvin Bagley — that is, if they view him as a potential stretch 4 and not a 5. He shot 37% from three for Duke this season (only 50 attempts, but his shot/release looks great), so the potential is there. Bagley has a lot to improve on when it comes to the defensive end, but he’s extremely talented on offense and always has a high motor (at least from the games I’ve watched), which Carlisle should love. I know Carlisle expects a ton from his bigs, and we’re all worried that one of these rookie bigs would be put in the doghouse (like Noel) eventually because of that, but I remember people saying the same thing about Dennis Smith Jr. last year when the Mavs drafted him.

When it comes to a player I think Carlisle would have a hard time coaching, I really don’t have anyone that comes to mind. That’s even taking into consideration a raw prospect like Mo Bamba. The Mavs are, more than likely, still a ways off from contending, and I think Carlisle has accepted that. There’s been times this season where Smith has struggled, and Carlisle could’ve benched him for a veteran guard, but didn’t. Smith has started every game. I think whoever the Mavs end up drafting, Carlisle will be flexible and patient with him, just as he’s been with Dennis, and that’s a great thing for the franchise going forward.