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Roundtable: Luck Be a Maverick

With the NBA Draft Lottery almost upon us, we gauge our staff’s feelings about the Mavericks’ chances.

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks are just a few days away from the NBA Draft Lottery, the day we’ve all been anxiously waiting for ever since the regular season ended and the Mavs won the tiebreaker with the Atlanta Hawks to secure the third best odds. When the event concludes on Tuesday night, we will finally know where the Mavs will pick. It could be as high as the No. 1 pick or as low as No. 6 pick. No matter where the Mavs end up, they are sure to come away with a very talented prospect this year. We recently checked in with our staff to see how everyone is feeling about the Mavericks’ chances heading into the lottery.

What’s your gut feeling about where the Mavs will end up in the draft order? Based on that feeling, who would you want them to consider drafting at that spot?

Doyle (@TheKobeBeef): My feeling is that they will be somewhere between the first overall pick and the sixth pick. Anywhere in there just seems mathematically right. As for who they pick, they should really go with the best available person. This isn’t really a draft for positional need, as I believe I’ve said before. It’s more for getting who they think is the best talent. Hopefully that talent is Luka Doncic. I know a lot of people are high on several of the big men who are projected to go in the top-six but I’m not. That’s not saying I don’t think they will be good at the pro level, I just don’t know enough about them to project their careers for the next 5-10 years. No one does. They could flame out just as easily as anyone else. I’d rather see the Mavs take a wing. Be it Doncic or one of the Bridges of no relation. This team was starved for perimeter talent last season and needs to haul itself into the modern NBA in terms of perimeter size. But, this is the Ahab Mavs. They’ll chase a center round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition’s flames before they give him up!

Kirk (@KirkSeriousFace): I’m generally a pessimistic fan, largely because if a bad thing seems like it could happen to the Mavericks, then it will. That said, I feel oddly positive about all this. My gut says they stay at three and from there I’ll be happy with whoever they want to take. I prefer Doncic, but despite all the nonsense that ends up on the internet, paired with the wholly atrocious opinions from people who’ve never seen him play a game, he won’t be there. Jaren Jackson Jr. is my second choice as of this moment. That could change. Really I’ll just be happy with anyone.

Jordan (@Jbrodess): This is a tough question to answer because it’s literally just how I’m feeling in this moment. I’m more Kirk (pessimistic) than I am Dalton (the most optimistic sports enthusiast I’ve ever met). My gut is that they’ll stay at No. 3 or 4. And that’s all fine. No. 5 or 6 would be disappointing after all this, and No. 1 or 2 is heaven. My gut also says they end up picking Bagley, though I’d prefer they select Jackson in that spot. But we’ll get more in to that later. All this means little until the order is set, and we actually get to see these players over the next month.

Sam (@SamGuertler): If my most recent Tankathon simulation is any indication, the Mavs will fall to sixth, but my gut feeling is that the Mavs slip a spot to four. With everything seeming to “go right” down the stretch (losing to teams like Phoenix and Orlando and winning the coin flip against Atlanta), it seems due for something wrong to happen. Clearly, at four, the Mavs will land a good prospect, and I think that player will be Jaren Jackson Jr. I think Doncic, Ayton and Bagley will go first, second and third, not necessarily in that order, gifting the Mavericks the Michigan State product.

Josh (@Boweman55): I’m like Kirk, so there’s a part of me in the pit of my stomach that thinks the Mavericks will slide down to sixth. What I’m not looking forward to are the amount of takes if the Mavs move from their spot in either direction — move up to No. 1 or 2 and we’ll be praising the nonexistent basketball gods for rewarding the Mavericks for competing in so many close games and generally looking like the most well put together tanking team of all time. Or they’ll drop to sixth and we’ll curse the Mavericks for those “meaningless” wins against Portland and Sacramento late in the season.

So that being said, I think the Mavericks stay at three. Just gonna play the odds here. I’m a Doncic man and love Ayton, but since both of them will be likely gone at three, I’ll be extremely satisfied with either Jackson or Bamba. Either of those two can help anchor the Mavericks’ defense, give Dennis Smith Jr. a pick and roll partner for the next decade and hide any defensive mistakes he makes. The Mavericks optimize rim-running big men better than almost any team in the league, so it’d be real neat to see what they’d do with the raw talent of either of those two bigs.

Dalton (@dalton_trigg): I personally think the Mavs are due for some good luck. They’ve had top-six lottery odds only five times in franchise history, and this is how their luck has gone:

You have to take into consideration that the lottery method we’re used to today wasn’t actually put into place until ‘94, but still, the Mavs have never once moved up in the lottery, regardless of what method is used, when having at least top-six odds. Dallas has either stayed where they were expected to be in the drafting order, or moved down. Moving up has to happen at some point, right? I really believe it’s going to happen on Tuesday night. I know the Mavs gave in towards the end of the season and seemingly went full tank mode for a few games, but for the majority of the season, they fought hard and just weren’t good enough to close a lot of games. Phoenix and Memphis, however, the two teams ahead of the Mavs in the lottery odds, were shameless in their tanking throughout this season, though, so I feel like divine intervention could play a role in this.

The Mavs are long due for a big break, and I don’t mean just winning a coin flip with Atlanta that gives them slightly better odds. I mean a franchise altering kind of break. There’s going to be potential for more than one of those big breaks this summer, but I think the Mavs start it off by coming away with the No. 1 overall pick. Then we can all spend the next month debating Ayton vs. Doncic.