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NBA Draft 2018: How Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, or Marvin Bagley could end up on the Mavericks

It’s improbable but here are a few ways the Mavericks could be in position to select one of the top 3 names in the NBA Draft

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Duke v Kansas Photo by Justin Heiman/Getty Images

Let’s first acknowledge that it would be some sort of incredible stroke of luck, stupidity, or trade for Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, or Marvin Bagley to become available for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Draft. However, the NBA offseason is known for being bonkers in many of those respects. (We’re looking at you, Summer of 2016).

With that in mind, let’s take a look at each of these players and the scenarios that might allow them to be available to the Mavericks.

The “Insane Lapse of Judgment” Scenarios

Absent a trade up (more on that later), the only way the Mavs would have the opportunity to draft one one of these top names is - obviously - if Phoenix, Sacramento, Atlanta, or Memphis pass. Would that be so crazy to think? (Yes.) But let’s look at some potential draft orders anyway.

Deandre Ayton

In this scenario, the Suns would simply select Luka Doncic whom their Head Coach named his first-born son after. The Kings would then select Marvin Bagley which isn’t that crazy. The Hawks could potentially talk themselves into the upside of Jaren Jackson Jr. as a two-way player as opposed to Ayton’s offensively focused game. Now all that is left is the Grizzlies who have already over-committed themselves to Marc Gasol even by letting their coach walk because of him.

It would be almost hypocritical of the Grizzlies to select Ayton or Bamba given their commitment to Gasol. If Michael Porter Jr. is medically cleared and allows Memphis to see his medical reports then the Grizzlies might talk themselves into him as well.

To summarize this scenario:

  1. PHX - Luka Doncic
  2. SAC - Marvin Bagley
  3. ATL - Jaren Jackson Jr.
  4. MEM - Michael Porter Jr.
  5. DAL - Deandre Ayton

Luka Doncic

After the recent report from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony that the Kings and Hawks would most likely “pass on European prodigy in favor of American frontcourt players” this scenario doesn’t seem as crazy. On top of that, Givony also reported, “The fact that Sacramento (No. 2), Atlanta (No. 3) and Memphis (No. 4) all declined to send a single person from the U.S. to watch the Euroleague Final Four tells me something about their interest level.

The Suns will most likely choose Ayton with their first pick anyway. Then, in line with Givony’s reports, the Kings, Hawks, and Grizzlies could select Bagley, Bamba, and Jackson Jr. in almost any order. The Hawks or Grizzlies could even take Michael Porter Jr. if they get access to his medicals and want a go-to scorer. Which leaves Luka Doncic for the Mavericks.

To summarize this scenario:

  1. PHX - Deandre Ayton
  2. SAC - Marvin Bagley
  3. ATL - Mo Bamba/Michael Porter Jr.
  4. MEM - Jaren Jackson Jr./Michael Porter Jr.
  5. DAL - Luka Doncic

Marvin Bagley

The big man from Duke could slip to the Mavs in a few different ways but it would almost certainly require two of Mo Bamba, Michael Porter Jr., or Jaren Jackson Jr. to be taken ahead of him. While some might see that as insane, there are several outlets that have Bagley ranked below those players. The Ringer has Jackson Jr. ahead of Bagley on their big board. Sports Illustrated’s latest mock draft had the Hawks taking Jackson Jr. ahead of Bagley. CBS Sports and Basketball Insiders selected Michael Porter Jr. with the fourth pick right after Bagley, but that’s still really close.

To summarize this scenario:

  1. PHX - Deandre Ayton
  2. SAC - Michael Porter Jr.
  3. ATL - Jaren Jackson Jr.
  4. MEM - Luka Doncic
  5. DAL - Marvin Bagley

Trading up

Outside of future draft picks, what Dallas has to offer in a trade is not that enticing. Dennis Smith Jr. is the Mavs’ best young piece but it’d be hard to imagine the Mavs parting with him so soon. Harrison Barnes is a fine player but he’s due nearly $50 million over the next two years and the Mavs like what he offers on and off the court. Wesley Matthews is a good role player and an expiring contract but we haven’t seen expiring contracts garner big value in recent years.

As long as Dallas has a first round draft pick in 2018 they could swap picks as well as give up their 2019 pick (with protections of course), but due to The Stepien Rule any additional first round picks would have to come from the 2021 or 2023 Drafts.

What the Mavs do have to offer is cap space. Would Memphis swap picks with the Mavs to be rid of Chandler Parsons? The Hawks have shown they really want to land a big free agent. They could potentially clear up enough space for two max contracts if they could get rid of Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler’s contracts. It looks like the end of the road for Atlanta and Dennis Schroder; could the Mavs be the third team in a team that takes a contract from another team? All of these seem like relative possibilities if the Mavericks wanted to trade up to four or higher.

Trae Young intrigue

This draft is very front court heavy at the top, and some of these teams haven’t had the best luck in taking big men with high picks.

Phoenix took Dragan Bender with the 4th pick and acquired Marquese Chriss who was selected at 8 in 2016. They took Alex Len with the 5th pick in 2013. Sacramento took Willie Cauley-Stein with the 6th pick in 2015 and Thomas Robinson at 5 in 2012. Memphis infamously took Hasheem Thabeet with the second overall pick in 2009. (James Harden was taken third, and Stephen Curry taken seventh. Ouch.)

All of those picks are in different drafts with different markets and vastly different players, but those decisions might come back to haunt some of these teams enough to dissuade them from taking a big man yet again.

Trae Young had an up and down year at Oklahoma but the ups were incredibly exciting. A team like Sacramento, Atlanta, or Memphis who have been relatively boring could look at Young project what his ‘ups’ could do for their franchise. Especially Atlanta and Memphis who were 30th and 28th respectively in home attendance last season.

Young had a 15 games stretch in late November to January where he averaged 32.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 2.0 steals, and shot 44.8 percent from the field (39.5 percent from three), and 84 percent from the free throw line. His highlights were littered across everyone’s timeline and television. His potential for an NBA team might just be enticing enough to take the massive risk.

Again, none of this is probable but...crazier things have happened.