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The Center Cannot Hold

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Things have fallen apart and more than mere anarchy was loosed upon the Maverick world

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The 2018 NBA draft is going to make all of us go crazy. It’s only April 26, so we still have a whopping two months before we can know, for sure, who will be in a Dallas Mavericks uniform next season. That’s entirely too much time for discussion, debate, and speculation.

The comments section here, on Facebook groups, on Twitter... the draft dominates our conversations. It’s a lot of fun, but sometimes the discussions become so granular that they lose focus and start to get irritating.

I’m firmly in the camp that the Dallas Mavericks should draft a wing regardless of where they draft. Just look at the box scores from these playoff games; they are either dominated by wings or big guards (Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons) or by utterly transcendent big men (Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid). I firmly believe the Dallas Mavericks need a wing player as a foundation piece and those sorts of players just don’t make it to the free agent market without reason. There’s also an abundance of big men coming to the free agent market who are not stars and could work out well in Dallas.

But then I went and looked at the last seven years and remembered just how many centers and power forwards have come through Dallas with none of them sticking for long or making a huge impact (excluding Dirk Nowitzki for obvious reasons and Shawn Marion since he played a lot of small forward):

2011-2012 - Brendan Haywood, Yi Jianlian, Ian Mahinmi, Sean Williams, Brandan Wright

2012-2013 - Elton Brand, Eddy Curry, Bernard James, Chris Kaman, Troy Murphy, Brandan Wright

2013-2014 - Dejuan Blair, Samuel Dalembert, Bernard James, Brandan Wright

2014-2015 - Bernard James, Tyson Chandler, Dwight Powell, Amar’e Stoudemire, Greg Smith, Brandan Wright, Charlie Villanueva

2015-2016 - David Lee, JaVale McGee, Salah Merji, Zaza Pachulia, Dwight Powell, Charlie Villanueva

2016-2017 - Andrew Bogut, Quincy Acy, Ben Bentil, A.J. Hammons, Salah Merji, Nerlens Noel, Dwight Powell

2017-2018 - Nerlens Noel, Salah Merji, Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Jonathan Motley

This, to be kind, is an utter horror show. 28 different players in seven years on a team that’s had trouble defending and rebounding.

When looking at the raw information I now wholly get the intense desire among the fan base to select a big man like Marvin Bagley III or DeAndre Ayton. It’s a direct, cost-controlled fix to a problem that’s been ever present for Dallas since the title team (the Mavericks should have just resigned Tyson Chandler). A guy like Jaren Jackson, Jr., Ayton, or Bagley would be that foundational piece to go along with Dennis Smith, Jr.

I still disagree with drafting a big man, to be clear, but I’ve come around to the logic on why it might be a good idea. I understood the argument but I did not pay any mind to the history and results behind the feelings and both history and results have to matter as the Mavericks try to rebuild. I still very much want a wing but if Dallas believes strongly they’ve found another anchor for their future, that’s enough for this particular know-nothing blogger.