It’s an A+, stupid.
...huh? You need more?
Oh, ok. Well, Thursday night got pretty wild. Just minutes in to the 2018 NBA Draft, the Mavericks pulled off what may go down as a franchise-altering trade, sending two picks (#5 and a future first) to the Atlanta Hawks for Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic.
If you’ve read the site much in the last six months you may be familiar with Doncic. He is the 6’8 passing phenom who at 19 is already a decorated European star, winning FIBA gold, a Euroleague title and the league’s MVP award in less than 12 months. After an agonizing final few weeks where speculation went from Doncic possibly falling to 5 to being the clear pick for Atlanta to a last second trade that earlier in the day appeared dead, Dallas got the guy they coveted from the get-go.
Doncic is an excellent fit for Dallas, in so many ways. He gives Rick Carlisle a big ballhandler who is a savant working out of pick and roll and can take pressure off of prized rookie(soon to be second year pro) Dennis Smith Jr. In Dallas he’ll get to learn from veterans like Dirk Nowitzki, J.J. Barea and Wesley Matthews. For a team that didn’t always have a lot of wing creation, it’s hard to overstate the benefit of adding the best wing creator to enter the league in years, and his presence also allows Harrison Barnes to go back to being mostly a play finisher, which suits him.
Draft hype has a way of making us all look like fools, but it’s worth noting that many publications considered Doncic the best player in the draft. Analytically, he was not just the best rated player almost unanimously, but he was widely considered the best analytics prospect on record (15-20 years). This is the sort of player you are almost never in a position to take, hence the decision to include a future first rounder.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that this is the sort of trade that can alter the direction of a franchise. With Doncic in the fold and DSJ next to him, Dallas can really use them as their twin-pillars to build around, and I think the team strategy going forward will be finding the right pieces that best compliment them. This feels like so much more of a viable plan than praying somebody decides they want to come play with Dirk. Now Dallas has a pair of young players with legitimate star upside.
Dallas also picked other players on Thursday, but you’ll forgive me for not immediately mentioning them. At #33, Dallas grabbed Villanova standout Jalen Brunson. The Wooden Player of the Year led the Wildcats to two national titles, and expertly executed Jay Wright’s motion offense to the tune of 19 points and 5 assists, on 40+ percent three point shooting. Brunson is a no-nonsense kid who plays within himself and takes good shots, so you know he’ll get along just fine with Rick Carlisle. It was a slight surprise that Brunson was the pick, considering the team has several point guards on the roster already, but with Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry free agents, it may be a sign Dallas is ready to move on from one of their young guards.
Finally, Dallas took a pair of long-armed big men at pick #56 and #60. Ray Spalding and Kostas Antetokounmpo. Sounds good to me.
Like I said, it’s an A+.
FINAL GRADE: Seriously...? A+!