It’s been a little over two weeks since the NBA Lottery, and with new information gleaned from the Combine and stories leaking out to the press, it’s time once again to review the various mock drafts. The first pass saw the consensus of sites selecting Mo Bamba for Dallas with the fifth overall pick.
Like last time, it’s important to remember sourcing. Some sites, like ESPN, claim they are making their choices based on a combination of analysis and insider information. Other sites simply do their drafts based on their own expert analysis.
What’s most interesting is that as if now, no one of note has Dallas selecting Michael Porter, Jr. Porter has apparently tumbled in some mock drafts because he’s controlling his own medical information (he did not get a physical at the Combine). He’s not letting every team get a read on his back health and can, in theory, direct his draft position somewhat.
Experts have Dallas selecting only one of two guys, which really doesn’t seem right.
Round 1, Pick 5
MOHAMED BAMBA, C, TEXAS | FR.
Height: 7’0” | Weight: 225 | Age: 20
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 highest ceilings of any prospect in this draft. Every team in the NBA is looking for a big man who can anchor a defense, and that includes the Mavs.
This is where the draft gets interesting. The Mavericks could go a number of different ways, from Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. to Duke big man Wendell Carter to Bamba. We’ll go with Bamba for now due to his immense potential as a rim protector and lob catcher. Bamba will be the real deal defensively, where he will use his historic 7’10 wingspan and keen instincts to be one of the league’s best shot blockers. His offensive game is less refined, but he has flashed potential as a shooter.
Provided he can fill out a bit physically, Bamba is almost certain to impact the game as a rim protector with his sheer, difference-making verticality. His offensive game is rudimentary, but his skill level and touch around the basket continues to improve and he might be able to space the floor as he becomes more confident in his jumper. It’s still unlikely Bamba becomes someone you run offense through, but if he becomes as dominant as he could be defensively, you’ll take what you can get. Chief concerns from NBA teams have centered on his competitiveness, which he can help address during the pre-draft process, and he’s begun to impress teams and fans alike with his personality.
A year ago, maybe the Mavs don’t go this direction but the Nerlens Noel experiment flopped and it’s very unlikely he stays in Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki will be 40 years old and there’s no young center ready to take on a large role. A big man makes sense in Dallas. After finishing last season second in the country in blocked shots per game, Bamba will provide an immediate defensive presence and rim protection that Dallas hasn’t had since the Tyson Chandler years. The hope will then be that he can develop his offensive game as well, and a year under Nowitzki and the mentorship of Rick Carlisle should help in that department (exhibit A: Dwight Powell). The Mavs can’t go wrong here with Jaren Jackson Jr. either, but Bamba seems to have a slightly higher ceiling.
Mavs Moneyball Analysis
Mo Bamba is still largely pegged as the guy for Dallas, but I simply have a hard time thinking they’ll go this route. While Bamba apparently has a great deal of upside, it’s hard to imagine the Mavericks having the patience required to molding him. They want to be in playoff contention now, and a center this raw physically means he either won’t play much, which would be terrible for his development, or he’ll play a lot and Dallas would most likely be bad. The fit doesn’t seem to reflect the facts as we know them.
JAREN JACKSON JR., C, MICHIGAN STATE | FR.
Height: 6’11” | Weight: 240 | Age: 18
Stats: 10.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.0 BPG
The Dallas Mavericks will consider Carter, but they’ll likely favor Jaren Jackson Jr. and his combination of elite defensive potential and three-point shooting.
The 18-year-old has textbook physical tools (6’11 ¼” size, 236 lbs, 7’5 ¼” wingspan) and is already equipped with a jump shot and the versatility to protect the rim or switch on defense. Given the room and time he has to improve as a scorer, his upside is immeasurable.
Jackson averaged 5.5 blocks and 2.0 threes per 40 minutes during his lone season at Michigan State, which is a rare, valued mix of abilities. The Mavericks will be thrilled with that skill set and can bet on the rest of his offensive repertoire to develop over the next few years.
There’s a thought that Jackson, who still is only 18, may be the player with the highest ceiling in this draft, but there’s a lot to make teams wary. Jackson could be dominant at times, a defensive presence and great athlete in the paint.
But he could disappear at times, too. Case in point: He scored eight points in MSU’s two NCAA Tournament games.
Jackson is big, long, athletic and versatile, with an outrageous ceiling on both ends of the floor. He has versatility as a playmaker and as a shooter; he shot 80 percent from the free-throw line, 40 percent from 3-point range. And the youngster – one of the youngest players in this draft – could learn at the helm of one of the greatest offensive big men of all time.
Mavs Moneyball Analysis
Given the Maverick draft spot, this is the best possible outcome. Jackson has the tools to fit in the Dallas system immediately and the upside to make him one of the few bigs who could stay in the floor as basketball evolves towards needing every position to shoot and handle the rock. The concern about his fouling and playing time at MSU are overblown; college and the NBA are two different sports if we’re being honest. Jackson would be a monstrous home run with the fifth pick.
Round 2, Pick 33
MITCHELL, C, N/A | FR.
Height: 7’1” (unverified) | Weight: 225 (unverified) | Age: 20
ESPN had no write up explaining the selection
Mavs Moneyball Analysis
ESPN is supposed to be the world wide leader in sports yet is so lazy as to having Dallas selecting TWO centers in one draft. The other night on their mock draft television special, they said that the Mavericks needed help everywhere, which is true, so having them select two bigs with their three picks really underscores how much they are mailing in their draft coverage. Mitchell withdrew from college, he withdrew from the combine, and is staying in the draft. Unless he has a promise from someone in the late first, the idea that the Mavericks are interested in him should be disregarded.
SHAKE MILTON, C, SMU | JR.
Height: 6’5.5” | Weight: 207 | Age: 18
Stats: 18.0 PPG, 4.4 APG, 4.7 RPG
The 6-foot-6 combo guard didn’t have a great couple days at the combine but his college résumé should keep him from slipping past the 40th pick. He can play both guard spots and small forward, and has a poise about his game that makes him intriguing. Despite his physical stature, he’s not the most athletic player, and his jump shot is reliable but not fearful. He has a high ceiling but there are questions as to whether he’ll reach it.
Mavs Moneyball Analysis
Milton is exactly the kind of player the Mavericks need to get with the 33rd pick. Luckily, this year’s draft seems awash in a variety of guys that could perform well given the chance.