The Dallas Mavericks are just mere days away from picking in one of the most important NBA Drafts in franchise history. There are a lot of different ways things could go on Thursday night, depending on which prospects are chosen by the four teams that are slotted ahead of the Mavs. You also have to factor in potential trades that could alter the current drafting order. With that in mind, along with NBA Free Agency coming up about a week after the draft, we asked our staff:
What will be the Mavs’ starting lineup next season? Who you see as being the 6th man? We will revisit these predictions before opening night!
Doyle (@TheKobeBeef): Dalton, you make this too easy! It’s clear that the starting lineup up will be Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, Dorian Finney-Smith, Harrison Barnes, and Dirk Nowitzki. You can put that in stone. Take a screenshot. Keep the receipt. Do whatever you want. Come late October, you’ll see that my guess that they’ll use this starting five is spot on.
There’s only one way I can see this changing and that’s if the Mavs draft a wing. Any of the wings projected in the top-10 or so can be plugged in to the starting five, replacing Finney-Smith. And when I say wing, I mean guys like Luka Doncic, Miles Bridges, and Mikal Bridges. I don’t mean someone like Michael Porter Jr., who is a trigger happy chucker with a body frame that’s built like Flat Stanley.
As for the Sixth Man, it’s got to be J.J. Barea doesn’t it? He was arguably their best player off the bench last season. Why not run it back?
Jordan (@Jbrodess): If I’m a betting man I’d go with the safe money. So opening night it’ll probably be something like: DSJ, Matthews, Barnes, Powell, Dirk. Sorry if I’ve already put you to sleep. I really have no sense on what the Mavericks will do in free agency. They have the money, but a poor track record in hauling in starter level free agents. I do think they’d like to make deals this summer, and that desire may win out over making the smartest long term decision. If the Mavs stay at five in the draft, the most likely outcome is Bamba. And I think he’d come off the bench, at least to start the season. Partially because of where he’s at in his development, and partially because of his fit (or lack thereof) next to Dirk.
As for the sixth man? My hunch is the Mavs sign Seth Curry to a short deal, and he starts the season in that role...and inevitably will get injured and JJ Barea or Yogi Ferrell will take over. There’s very little flashy content here, considering all the hype that is building for the Mavericks’ summer. There are plenty of opportunities within reach for them over the next several weeks. But very few things that are a no-brainer.
Dalton (@dalton_trigg): I’m going to say the Mavs’ opening night starters will be: Dennis Smith Jr., Wes Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley III and DeMarcus Cousins
Although I’ve had Doncic at the top of my draft board, Bagley has been my favorite prospect, and I just have a feeling he’s going to be the one to fall to No. 5 on Thursday night. Bagley will need to work on his defense, for sure, but pairing him with Smith Jr. will automatically give the Mavs’ offense a much needed shot in the arm. ESPN’s recent mock draft has given me hope that Bagley could be available for the Mavs.
Meanwhile, this is the summer the Mavs finally get their big-fish free agent center with Boogie. It’s unfortunate that it took a devastating Achilles injury to finally make it happen, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. I have no idea what amount of money Cousins will sign for, but it will probably be enough to make a lot of fans complain. If Cousins can come back strong from this injury, though, and show that he can be the same player he was before, it’ll be worth the gamble for Dallas.
As far as 6th man goes, that’s going to be the GOAT himself, Dirk. Making the move to the 2nd unit is something that’s been talked about by Dirk and others over the last few seasons. In the team exit interviews this year, JJ Barea said he’d love to play with Dirk more off the bench. It’ll be a hard thing for Carlisle to do, but it’ll also work out for the best, in my opinion.
*Disclaimer: I reserve the right to be totally wrong with these predictions, while also potentially making lemonade out of lemons with whatever the lineup actually ends up being in October.*
Sam (@SamGuertler): The starting line up on opening night will be DSJ-Wes Matthews-Harrison Barnes-MPJ-Dirk. I can already envision the draft night presser. The Mavericks will say something along the lines of having an excellent opportunity to snag a first overall caliber player due to an injury that is behind him. The medical staff had no concerns, and the Mavericks were really fortunate to select Porter Jr. at five. He and Barnes will be interchangeable, and Barnes will probably guard fours on defense.
The sixth man will be J.J. Barea. He’s coming off a career year and will be the catalyst to another high-powered bench unit.