The NBA Draft Lottery is less than two weeks away, but mock draft season has already started to heat up. If you’ve had your fill of “LeBronto” and all the NBA playoff talk, let’s take a look around the web at some of the names currently projected as likely picks for the Mavericks, who will select somewhere between No. 1 and No. 6 on draft night.
1. Dallas Mavericks - Luka Doncic, G, Slovenia
Doncic separates himself from a talented pack of American prospects because his skill set is so well-rounded and he has consistently brought an ability to make winning plays. Doncic combines excellent passing skills with an advanced feel for the game, a projectable jump shot and a nose for the ball as a rebounder and defender. He’s been remarkably productive as a European pro from an early age. That will continue early in his NBA career.
OK great, we did it, let’s go home guys!
***puts finger to microphone in ear***
...I’m being told the actual draft isn’t for another seven weeks, so, uh, never mind, don’t go home, let’s stay here a minute.
I’m starting with SB Nation’s mock not to shamelessly plug the mother site, but because this is clearly the ideal scenario. In Ricky O’Donnell’s mock, he’s used ESPN’s lottery machine to arrange the picks, and in what is hopefully a prophetic sign, Dallas came up first. For those who don’t know, the Mavericks have a 13.8 percent chance at landing the top pick, having won the coin toss with the Atlanta Hawks to secure the third-best lottery odds.
Even better than landing the top selection, O’Donell gets all the points I can give for choosing Doncic, who in this writer’s humble opinion is the best player in the draft and a sensational fit for the Mavs. Rick Carlisle is one of the pioneers of the multi-PG lineup, and in Doncic you have point guard skills in a sturdy 6’8 body, allowing Dallas to execute its flow offense without giving up any size at the other end.
Another major plus is that the Slovenian-born star is probably the most NBA-ready draft prospect in years and can help the Mavs win immediately. If you’re reading the tea leaves, this may be a big consideration for Dallas (at least relative to other clubs) and Mark Cuban, who has emphatically stated he doesn’t want to drag this rebuilding process out much longer.
3. Mavericks - Marvin Bagley III, F/C, Duke | Fr.
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 235 | Age: 19 | Last: 5
Stats: 21.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 61.4% FG
After winning a tiebreaker with the Hawks, the Mavs have a 13.8% chance at the No. 1 pick and will be in position to address their need for a frontcourt mainstay regardless. With a major need up front, Dallas is looking hard at Bagley, whose offensive productivity, rebounding and athleticism were highly impressive at Duke. He has strides to make defensively and as a shooter and finisher, but Bagley is certainly an unfinished product with lots of room to grow. At some point his talent outweighs concerns over positional fit.
This mock is from April 18th, and Jeremy Woo sends Duke big man Marvin Bagley III to Dallas, with DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic respectively off the board. Bagley was highly productive as a freshman at Duke and is certainly a well-known name to college basketball fans.
His fit with the Mavs is an interesting subject. In the short term, you could theoretically start him next to Dirk, with the Big German working outside and Bagley III doing his damage inside. Bagley’s long-term position remains a question mark, because he doesn’t really offer the rim protection you’d like in a center, and his offensive game isn’t developed enough to make him the kind of forward Dallas usually rolls out. Still, there’s no doubt the talent-starved Mavs could use a 19-year-old who put up 21-11 per game in the ACC.
3. Mavericks — Jaren Jackson Jr., C, Michigan State
Age: 18.6 | Height: 6-11 | Weight: 242
The Mavericks won a coin flip against the Hawks for the third spot on Friday. The two teams will split ping pong balls and have virtually equal lottery odds, but if things fall in line, it’ll be Dallas who selects first on draft night.
Jackson is one of the youngest prospects in the 2018 draft class and his statistical profile — in part due to his age — is one of the most promising. The 18-year-old averaged 5.5 blocks per 40 minutes as a freshman while shooting 39.6 percent from behind the arc. He has legitimate unicorn potential. Turning him into a long-term ball screen partner with Dennis Smith Jr. would be a terrific move for a franchise looking to bring back its glory days.
Given all the information we have, I would make the case that this is the most likely scenario for the actual draft: Dallas picks third (since they have the third-best odds), and with Ayton and Doncic gone, selects Jaren Jackson Jr., the best player left. As the write-up above mentions, JJJ is an elite rim-protector and high-quality three point shooter, which means he could probably be a playoff-level role player even if he never improves the rest of his game. That’s unlikely, of course, because he’s one of the youngest players in the draft. Given that Dallas has shifted to a five-out offense with all five starters spacing the floor (one can debate if the presence of an aging Dirk Nowitzki made this play style more necessity than design), it’s pretty easy to imagine Jackson slipping in seamlessly here.
3. Dallas Mavericks - Mohamed Bamba (Texas, C, Freshman, 7’0”)
The Dallas Mavericks could go a bunch of different directions here. Dennis Smith has plenty of potential as the team’s future point guard. Harrison Barnes, in spite of the advanced numbers’ disdain for him, still has some value as a young-ish combo forward who can score nearly 20 points a game.
With Dirk Nowitzki nearing the end of his career and Nerlens Noel and Rick Carlisle seemingly at odds, inside may be where Dallas looks to round out its core.
Marvin Bagley III is intriguing as a playmaking 5. Jaren Jackson may have the most defensive potential. But the pick here, for now, is Mohamed Bamba.
As is the case with most bigs, Bamba still has plenty of work to do on the offensive end, but he’s already unbelievable on the other. Jackson is the only player to have played over 700 minutes with a sub-90 defensive rating and a higher block percentage than Bamba. The Texas center’s defensive rebounding percentage is nearly 10 points higher than Jackson’s and over five points better than his total rebounding percentage.
Bamba is yet another ultra-talented big man in this draft, and if the Mavs do draft him, you can be sure there will be plenty of happy Texas Longhorn fans out there. Unlike the other big names at the top of these mock drafts, Bamba profiles as more of a throwback center, and with his absurd 7’9 wingspan and rare agility for his size, he’s been compared to Rudy Gobert for months now. The kicker will be how Dallas evaluates his offensive upside, as Bamba has the makings of a quality jumpshot, but is still very raw at that end.
I’ll be honest: Bamba is the player I struggle most with personally, and I genuinely feel you can make a case he should be picked at any spot between second overall and, I dunno, 10th? That’s a long-winded way of saying he’s probably the major boom or bust prospect in this draft.
BBall Insiders has a “consensus mock draft” with four writers each giving their picks for Dallas without analysis. They are as follows:
Benny Nadeau — Jaren Jackson, Jr.
Jesse Blancarte — Marvin Bagley III
Moke Hamilton — Michael Porter, Jr.
Steve Kyler — Michael Porter, Jr.
I’m not very familiar with the work of Moke Hamilton, and I don’t mean to call him out here, but you’ll notice he has Dallas selecting Michael Porter Jr. Now, that wouldn’t be so terrible, except for the fact that he also has Luka Doncic falling to Orlando at No. 5 (follow the link above to see all the picks). Barring something truly shocking, like a serious medical red flag or spontaneous combustion, I’m fairly certain that won’t happen. Doncic appears pretty locked in to a top 2-3 selection, along with DeAndre Ayton. The player most likely to fall is probably Porter, who is still recovering from major back surgery and looked visibly limited in the two games following his return to the court.