The lottery is over and done with and the Dallas Mavericks are selecting fifth over all. Two weeks ago, we did a pre-lottery look at who the Mavericks might select. Since everyone was guessing at lottery placement, it served mainly as a hopeful look into the future. Now that the pick is set, it’s time to consider on- and off-the-record comments from team officials, analysis of the players involved, and team needs.
In other words, it’s mock draft time. As always, it’s important to remember the source of a mock draft. Some sites, like ESPN and the Ringer, do their drafts with intel in mind (meaning they have info from sources, which plays into the rankings). Others do their mock drafts based on the site’s own analysis of the prospects’ talents and the teams’ needs. Both are useful in different ways.
Now that the selection order is set, the first two picks will be (not necessarily in this order) DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic, unless something changes in terms of the medical reports. After Sacramento and Phoenix, the Hawks and Grizzlies could go a number of directions. With that in mind, on to the first round of official mock drafts.
Here are the players projected to Dallas by major publications:
MOHAMED BAMBA, C, TEXAS| FR.
Height: 7’0” | Weight: 225 | Age: 19
Stats: 12.9 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 3.7 BPG
Bamba’s rare combination of length, shot-blocking instincts and offensive promise gives him one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in this draft. He brings a ton of defensive potential, including the versatility to step out onto smaller players, though he also can float at times and doesn’t always look engaged on the floor.
Dallas needs to fill a long-term void in its frontcourt, and despite dropping a couple of spots will still have an opportunity to do that with this selection. Bamba’s high-end defensive potential makes him a worthwhile player to invest resources in long-term. Much will be made of his 7’9” wingspan and 9’6” standing reach, and some think he’s agile enough to eventually defend in space. His offensive game is rudimentary, but his skill level continues to improve and he may be able to space the floor in time. Chief concerns from NBA teams have centered on his competitiveness, which he can help address during the pre-draft process. He should thrive in interviews and workouts.
The Dallas Mavericks dropped in the lottery, but they can still add a valuable cornerstone in Mohamed Bamba, who’ll make it easier to part ways with Nerlens Noel. Bamba gives Dallas a defensive anchor and a finishing weapon around the hoop. He could win the Mavericks over in workouts when he shows off more skill and touch than he was able to demonstrate at Texas. His spectacular 7’9” wingspan, unique mobility and flashes of post play and shooting hint at a one-of-a-kind player.
The Nerlens Noel experiment will likely come to an end this summer, and Bamba could become Dallas’ long-term starting center. A young core of Dennis Smith Jr. at point guard, Harrison Barnes at forward and Bamba at center would give Dallas a balanced foundation to build on for the future... “He’s such an elite shot blocker,” an Eastern Conference executive told The Athletic. “His skill level isn’t bad, and it’s getting better. He has a nice touch, and he’s going to get better.” On offense, The 19-year-old center has been working out with trainer Drew Hanlen on face-up moves, back-to-the-basket moves including a turnaround fadeaway jumper and one-legged fadeaway jumper, and jab steps.
Given Dirk Nowitzki is aging and Nerlens Noel doesn’t seem part of Dallas’ long-term future, the Mavericks using their top-five pick to lock down a frontcourt piece wouldn’t be a surprise. Bamba is a raw prospect, but his potential as a rim protector and rim runner alongside Dennis Smith Jr. could give Dallas a nice one-two punch. Bamba features a 7-9 wingspan and averaged 4.8 blocks per 40 minutes as a freshman. The offensive game is still a work in progress, though. He’ll need to find a defined role on that end to be successful.
Mavs Moneyball Analysis
At the moment, Bamba’s as close to a “consensus” pick as you’ll see online. However, it’s important to note that I believe only ESPN’s draft factored in sourced information, and their first attempt at a mock is lazy to the point of being a cut-and-paste job with no team-specific additions. Instead, it appears as if many believe Bamba may be the last big man standing in the second tier of forward/center prospects which includes Jaren Jackson Jr. and Marvin Bagley III.
MICHAEL PORTER JR., SF, MISSOURI | FR.
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 215 | Age: 19
Stats (2016 U18 FIBA Americas): 15.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.4 APG
Porter Jr. was considered by some as the No. 1 recruit in the country entering his freshman season at Missouri. Then he was immediately sidelined by back surgery that cost him all but the last two games of the season. The injury remains a big concern. It’s also going to be hard for NBA teams to evaluate where his shooting and ball handling are at since he’s hardly played over the last year. There was a time when Porter looked like a sure-thing, a three-level scorer as a 6’10 combo forward who was going to be a devastating offensive weapon. That player very well could still be within him, but there’s a lot more risk associated with him now.
A tall, athletic forward who can drain shots from anywhere but must hone his ball handling skills to reach his scoring potential... Shades of Athletic Keith Van Horn, Otto Porter Jr., Harrison Barnes... Pluses: Sweet shooting stroke with a high release and soft touch, both off the catch and off the dribble... Minuses: Suffers from Andrew Wiggins syndrome: He needs to prove he can be more than an inefficient scorer.
Mavs Moneyball Analysis
With five weeks until the NBA Draft, the selection of Porter feels just as likely as Bamba, perhaps even more so. The Mavericks continue to indicate they have no desire to be in the lottery next season, and while that may be a noble goal, it’s very unlikely. A player like Porter does speed up the timetable, injury or no, as his scoring skill set translates well to the NBA level. Also, if you didn’t check out the Ringer Draft Guide, do. It’s a work of art.
JAREN JACKSON JR., C, MICHIGAN STATE | FR.
Height: 6’11” | Weight: 240 | Age: 18
Stats: 10.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.0 BPG
I’m not as high on Jackson as most others, if only because he didn’t produce at Michigan State the way so many other heralded freshmen produced on other campuses in their only years of college basketball. The 6-11 forward averaged just 21.8 minutes per game and often struggled with foul trouble. That’s a concern. But his physical tools are undeniable. And the potential for stardom is clearly there considering Jackson is A) a top-shelf athlete, B) somebody who shot 39.6 percent from beyond the arc, and C) an asset, in a variety of ways, on the defensive end of the court.
Mavs Moneyball Analysis
Gary Parrish has Jackson available at five because he doesn’t believe in him due to production concerns. Considering he also puts Michael Porter Jr. at four, I feel confident in calling him very wrong as of this writing. That said, if Jackson’s available at five, the Mavericks would be ecstatic. A three-point-shooting shot blocker is the dream. Nearly all of the concerns about him, from production to fouling, are over emphasized. This is the kind of big man Rick Carlisle could coach up in a hurry.
As of now, there are a lot of factors yet to play themselves out. With the NBA Combine underway (and portions televised today and Friday) we should start to get a bit of clarity on certain players. Measurables, medical reports, and anonymous sources should mean more definition on possible outcomes when the next round of mock drafts come out next week. Until then, the debate will carry on.