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Ranking the picks for the Dallas Mavericks

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You thought the historic uncertainty around who goes where would stop us from making predictions? Wrong!

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NBA Draft is hours away, and the rumor mill is only just getting revved up now. Will Dallas trade up? Will they trade back? If they stay at 5, do they take a big? These are all questions we’ll try to answer now, in a totally not-futile attempt at ranking the Mavericks’ top 10 likeliest draft picks. Let’s go:

1. Mo Bamba

  • Bamba has been the most popular mock **by far** and with good reason. He’s a huge center who on paper looks to be a rim-running, shot-blocking, rebounding menace. He is by most accounts a smart, hard-working kid who won’t land in Rick Carlisle’s doghouse with poor off-court habits. He’s also a former-Longhorn. Based on the information we have at this exact moment, it’s the boring, predictable pick.

2. Jaren Jackson Jr.

  • JJJ has been mocked somewhere between 3-5 for months now, and while the smart money says he goes before Dallas, it would likely only take one “curveball” pick to drop him into the Mavs’ very welcoming arms. Of the realistic options at #5, this is very definitely my favorite, so it probably won’t happen. An interesting note that comes with the latest rumor that Atlanta is the favorite to take Luka Doncic and not Jackson: JJJ apparently turned down the Grizzlies’ request to work out for the team. Memphis could still take Jackson, Jr. at 4, but it at least slightly increases the odds of Memphis considering other options.

3. Luka Doncic

  • That 20-minute window where reports were coming out that Doncic might fall to 5 has closed, and as of now it would appear the Mavs would need to trade up to get him. This seems like the guy they would do that for, though, and even with the recent buzz that Atlanta (and Sacramento still!) are considering him, there is reporting out there that Dallas is feeling out trade scenarios.

4. Michael Porter Jr.

  • There’s been enough smoke about Porter that I’m going to disregard my internal skepticism about both the player generally and his potential fit in Dallas. If you believe the DX guys, “ownership” loves MPJ, and if that is true it’ll be interesting to see if they want to just take him at 5 or trade back for additional assets and risk losing him. Porter in Dallas would be really weird.

5. Wendell Carter Jr.

  • Maybe this is wishful thinking but the few bits I’ve read about the Mavs’ evaluation of Carter Jr. has me thinking he could be their preferred target in a trade-back situation, or even perhaps at #5. He’s a safe pick(certainly relative to MPJ and I’d argue relative to Bamba as well) but with enough upside to justify a high selection.

6. Marvin Bagley III

  • Almost every year there’s one guy who falls and surprises people. Sometimes it’s a lottery prospect who falls to the second round, and sometimes it’s a guy projected to go top 2-3 who falls a few picks past that. Could Bagley be that guy this year? It’s possible. The Kings seem to like him at #2, but if they opt for Doncic, and some combo of Bamba, Porter or Trae Young go #3-4, Bagley could be right there for Dallas. A Bagley-Dennis pick and roll would be fun to watch.

7. Miles Bridges

  • If Dallas was to trade back(say to the range of those back-to-back Clipper picks) and was targeting a wing, Miles makes a lot of sense. He brings versatility, toughness, and athleticism, and this is the team that drafted Justin Anderson back in 2015. He and Barnes together would be a very switch-friendly forward duo.

8. Mikal Bridges

  • I haven’t seen much connecting Dallas to the other Bridges, but if they are looking for a replacement for Wes Matthews — who is set to be a free agent following the ‘18-19 season — they couldn’t do any better than Mikal. Hard to imagine him lasting past NY at 9 and Philly at 10, so that’s as far back as Dallas can trade and still get him, I’m betting.

9. Lonnie Walker IV

  • I’m not personally a huge Lonnie Walker fan, but in theory he’s exactly what you’d want playing alongside Dennis: long, athletic defender, who can spot up weakside but also has enough playmaking chops to be a secondary ballhandler. Once projected to be in the 10-12 range, Walker may be falling a bit now, but from a fit perspective I could see Dallas placing him higher on their board.

10. Zhaire Smith

  • Another trade-back range pick, Zhaire played in-state at Texas Tech and is arguably the fastest rising player in the draft(I’m referring both to his stock and his ridiculous elevation). His defensive upside, and the way he plays within himself and scores without having plays called for him presents a really nice complimentary profile for Zhaire, with so much of the offense likely to be run through DSJ and Harrison Barnes.