The thing about professional sports drafts is that the longer they go, the more unpredictable they become. With the NBA, most years the first few picks are usually predictable within a certain range. Since there are only 60 slots, it’s the sort of thing where we can make assumptions about where players are going the closer it gets to the draft.
That’s what makes the 33rd pick so interesting to think about, because this season there are so many interesting guys who could be available, whether they be a late first round slider or a guy the actual experts might consider a reach. This time, we discuss four more players to go along with Kevin Huerter, Jacob Evans, and Khyri Thomas.
Jordan Brodess (@JBrodess): We’ve talked about guys we hope fall to Dallas with the 33rd pick. But if/when that doesn’t happen, are there more second-round-realistic wings that you’d be targeting if you were General Manager Donnie Nelson?
Ian Miller (@SmitheeMMB): Two intriguing guys that I’ve seen discussed more as bubble first/second rounders are Melvin Frazier of Tulane and Shake Milton of SMU. Both fit the mold of long, versatile wings that would bolster the team’s lack of depth there, but they bring a slightly different skillset to the table. While the local product Milton is a very good shooter and quality decision maker operating out of pick and rolls, Frazier is more the athletic, bouncy, defensive disruptor who arguably helped himself as much as anyone during the combine. Frazier’s 7’2 wingspan and quick feet helped him deflect passes, cut off driving lanes, and then convert turnovers into easy transition baskets. Milton is also long(7’0 wingspan at 6’6), but is not the same type of athlete, which will probably make him very perimeter-oriented at the next level. Still, Milton’s shoot/pass profile would look great next to Dennis or off the bench, and right now of the two I’d say he’s more likely to be available when Dallas picks at #33.
Jordan: I’m sure everyone in our internal draft discussions has tired from me hyping my very talented son, Shake Milton. I’ve long thought Shake compliments Dennis Smith Jr. really well. His measurements at the combine solidified some of that for me. I also like that he’s another ball handler on the floor for Rick Carlisle - and to have that option with a player that size is a plus. Carlisle has long opted to use two or three point guards, typically undersized, to attack the defense. But with Milton’s comfort level with the ball in his hands, he’d slide in next to DSJ on the perimeter without the Mavs trading in any length.
Milton and Frazier sort of represent two ends of impressions at the combine. Frazier was the talk of the week, and Milton didn’t have great scrimmages. The question, I guess, is really how much you care about those scrimmages. What I was surprised by is how similarly these two measured (Frazier was half an inch taller, and Milton was about 10 pounds heavier). My question is, do you think Frazier would play shooting guard? I’m pretty sure Milton would (and maybe even back up PG). But I feel like Frazier slots in more as a small forward - and what does that mean for his fit in Dallas? The Mavs are wing-starved, so maybe it doesn’t matter. Here are their shot charts for reference on where they were getting their shots on the floor. Thoughts?
Ian: I do think Frazier is probably more of a small forward but he did handle some playmaking duties at Tulane and shows at least some promise there. He’s also improved as a shooter (and that will ultimately determine his ceiling at the next level), topping out at I believe 38% this past season. So, given that, I could envision him getting some burn at off-guard, where he’ll have a pretty significant size/length advantage.
Either way, at this point I wouldn’t be too concerned about specific positions. It’s just about getting proper lineup balance, so you’re not putting all the ballhandling or defensive responsibilities on one guy.
Jordan: Since you tried to steal away my pick and SMU’s chosen one, I’m going to throw two more names at you. One is a fringe first rounder that you and I were fans of in the past, and a wild card wing the Mavs should consider taking a flier on: Bruce Brown Jr. and Isaac Bonga. These guys both represent opposite ends of the spectrum, in how they will be used at the next level, and how quickly they can become contributors.
Brown, a sophomore out of Miami, unfortunately only played in 19 games this season due to injury. Though he did suit up for their lone tournament game, so health may not be a concern now. It’s cliche, but yes, he’s a swiss army knife perimeter player that is a solid secondary playmaker, sound decision maker, and elite defensive prospect. My hesitation with him is his three point shot. It’s a small sample size from so few games, but he went a stomach churning 7 of 46 from NBA three this season. If he can figure out that part of his game, he’s an ideal sleeper/draft steal at 33.
Bonga doesn’t get talked about enough, in my opinion. Partially because he’s an international prospect, partially because he’s so young, but there is some real potential there. His biggest knocks are general strength and athleticism. But he flashes playmaking ability at 6’8” with a 7’ wingspan. I don’t love the idea of the Mavs drafting and stashing, and would rather they try to develop whoever they draft on their own. But Bonga is an intriguing player that I could be sold on at 33.
Ian: Brown was a guy I loved after his freshman season and I thought he had a good chance to play his way into the late lottery if he could build on that. Unfortunately, injuries and a shooting slump sunk his draft stock.
Still, even with his poor shooting numbers he managed to stuff the stat sheet to the tune of 11-7-4, with over a steal and nearly a block per game. He’s by most accounts a good teammate and a coachable player, who at 21 may not have huge upside but is mature enough to come in and help right away. If his freshman shooting returns (where he did well spotting up off-ball) he could become an elite glue guy and great fit next to Dennis.