The draft inches closer still. If you’ve missed the earlier debates between Jordan and Ian, there’s the Bagley or Jackson discussion, the Bridges debate, a look at the wings who might be around at pick 33, and if the Mavericks should make a play to get Luka Doncic. Now, we’re on to looking at big men who could be there in the second round.
Jordan Brodess (@JBrodess): If the Mavs grab a wing with their lottery pick, and don’t just want to load up with more wings with the 33rd pick (which is what I would do). Give me some names of F/C that you’d want the Mavs to consider in the early second round.
Ian Miller (@SmitheeMMB): As I think we’ve said repeatedly, predicting who lasts to the 2nd round and who doesn’t is difficult, but I’ll go over two players with very different profiles: Mitchell Robinson and Moritz Wagner. Robinson is an athletic big man whose measurements (7’1” with a 7’4” wingspan) and physical traits are in a tier close to Ayton and Bamba. He projects as a rim-runner, rebounder and shotblocker in the Drummond/Jordan mold. Despite sitting out all season in what was a truly bizarre recruiting journey(initially committing to Western Kentucky, then deciding to leave), Robinson could still go top 20, but his curious decision to skip the combine might end up backfiring, as that would have been the traditional place to answer the sort of off-court questions that follow him. If he does fall into round 2, the potential reward far outweighs the nominal risk.
Mo Wagner, meanwhile, is a skilled big man who hails from Germany(Dallas has had some success there, I’ve heard) and played college ball at Michigan. He’s a true floor-spacer at 6’11 and has outstanding footwork operating in high-or-mid post. He’s not an explosive athlete, and that will lead some to doubt his defensive upside at the next level, but watching him I found myself impressed more and more with his ability to anticipate and move his feet quickly. He had several very strong defensive games in Michigan’s incredible tourney run, and while NBA-level length/athleticism will test him, I think he’s proven himself to be a legitimate NBA prospect, and not just a future Euroleague star. Oh, and if Dallas does draft him, expect hundreds of fluff pieces about him getting to learn under his idol, Dirk Nowitzki.
Jordan: Yeah, just off the top of my head Wagner was the player that came to mind. Outside of the fact that he recently called Dirk his MJ growing up, when talking to Alex Kennedy at HoopsHype, he fits the mold of a stretch big that could bring some scrappiness off the bench. He looks to be a guy that could be a team’s 7th man who comes in and feasts on mismatched second unit big men. His three ball, combined with some comfort taking slower defenders off the dribble is his best weapon. Though he isn’t an elite finisher near the rim (65 percent last season). His final season at Michigan really was the first time he proved an ability to grab a rebound (7 per game), so I’ll be curious to see how that translates. Wagner is an interesting prospect who could find the right system and role, and be a valuable energy guy off the bench. But if he can’t do the extra stuff and doesn’t match a coach’s vision, I could see him having trouble finding consistent playing time.
I’ll be honest, the back half of the draft is so wing heavy it’s hard finding a ton of options on big men that are good value in the early second, outside of who you mention above. And that makes me curious -- do you think that would influence how the Mavericks approach their lottery pick? Knowing there are far fewer big men later in the draft? I’m all about grabbing as many versatile wings as possible, but it’s no secret the Mavericks need young big men.
Ian: I really like Gary Clark, and was surprised he didn’t get an invite to the combine. He’s older than most, maybe all, of the other prospects (currently 24 years old), and may lack a clear position, but his defensive energy and presence will be valuable to a team. His three point shooting was improved this season, though it was a smaller sample size (43 percent on 62 attempts). But if he can carve out a true Three & D role at the next level, he could be a late draft steal, or an ideal undrafted free agent -- something the Mavs have been pretty good at as of late.
One more name I’ll throw out, that really makes more sense with the Mavericks’ late second round pick if he’s still there: Omari Spellman. I’m not sure you’re as interested in him as I am, but the redshirt freshman out of Villanova intrigues me. He’s already shed some weight while in school, and was measured at 6’9, 258 pounds, with a 7’2 wingspan at the combine. For his size, he’s deceptively athletic. And his three ball, where he shot nearly 42 percent on 97 attempts from NBA distance, might be his biggest offensive selling point. Perhaps different than most, he actually shot better from the wing than the top of the key -- depending how he adjusts to NBA defense, he’ll either play short stints as a stretch four, or center in five-out schemes.
On top of that, he rebounded well and blocked some shots. Per 36 minutes he averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Like, he might be what would happen if Boris Diaw could block shots and, I don’t know, jump? I’m not sure, but he’s worth a second round flier for me. Unfortunately, it’s probable he fits within the window between both Mavericks’ second rounders.