There’s a significant buzz in Dallas for the second straight year after draft night, and it’s hard to ignore it.
In what’s widely praised as the best move of the night, the Mavericks traded with the Atlanta Hawks to move up and select European superstar, Luka Doncic, with the third overall pick. “Wonderboy”, as he’s known in Slovenia, was near the top of the Mavericks’ draft board, so getting their guy at three is a value pick that makes the surrendering of next year’s pick (with light protection) well worth the gamble.
The Mavericks also left New York City with multiple draft picks for the first time in what seems like forever. Dallas selected Jalen Brunson out of Villanova with the 33rd pick, and traded the 54th pick to Philadelphia for picks 56 and 60 where they selected Ray Spalding from Louisville and Kostas Antetokounmpo (yes, that Antetokounmpo) from Dayton.
Here’s what the media outlets had to say about the Mavs draft:
Luka Doncic - 3rd pick
SB Nation: A
The Mavericks traded up to get the best player in the draft. Dallas paid a heavy price, reportedly surrendering a future first round pick (protected in the top five) in addition to their own No. 5 overall selection, but Doncic’s combination of winning pedigree and advanced skill level is worth it. Doncic can be a primary offensive initiator at 6’8, 230 pounds, offering a rare blend of playmaking and shooting potential. He’s a player who stuffs the stat sheet on a nightly basis and has proven he’s a winner at every level. Dallas has found another international star to take over as Dirk Nowitzki exits. This was a bold move by the Mavericks, but it was worth it.
CBS Sports: A-
With a reported trade, the Mavericks get their man here. The decision to pony up a future first-rounder was big just to move up two spots, but Doncic has the combination of NBA readiness and upside to be a star.
The Ringer: A
The Mavs have found their man. Every team in the top five had a chance at the polarizing European prodigy, and Dallas wound up making the move, giving up a future first-round pick to move up from no. 5 to no. 3. The Mavs have been wandering in the wilderness ever since they blew up their championship team in 2011. Now they have an exciting young core with Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. that is a perfect fit for Rick Carlisle’s multiple-ball-handler offense.
The Hawks made this pick on behalf of the Mavericks, and traded down to No. 5. Doncic is a major coup for Dallas, who have coveted him all season. He will essentially take the torch from Dirk Nowitzki as the Mavs push back toward competing for a playoff spot, and pair with Dennis Smith to give the Mavericks a dynamic pair of young playmakers. Many feel Doncic will be at his best with an athletic, slashing guard to help put pressure on opposing defenses, and he will have a chance to do that in Dallas. The Mavericks will give up a future first to get this done, but given the way they valued Doncic, it’s worth it.
Bleacher Report: A+
Dallas fleeced Atlanta in the deal that sent Doncic to the Mavericks and Young to the Hawks. At points in the draft process, Doncic was considered the best player in the talent pool, and he could well be the biggest star of the group. The Mavericks have the perfect system in place for Doncic to succeed right away, as he will be working under head coach Rick Carlisle and learning from Dirk Nowitzki.
USA Today: A-
The Real Madrid sensation is on his way to the Dallas Mavericks thanks to a draft-night deal, according to USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick. The deal swaps the No. 3 and No. 5 picks, so Luka Doncic for Oklahoma star Trae Young, with the Mavericks sending a future first-round pick to the Hawks.
Sporting News: A+
Doncic is the top-rated prospect on our board. The 6-8 wing is an outstanding pick-and-roll ball-handler, the best passer in the draft and a projectable shooter. The big question is how he fits alongside 2017 first-round pick Dennis Smith Jr. Doncic’s success for the Slovenian national team during the EuroBasket tournament when he played next to Goran Dragic can provide a blueprint. Doncic should have gone No. 1 in this draft. He’s terrific value here.
Jalen Brunson - 33rd pick
CBS Sports: A
This run on point guards now sees perhaps the most polished and definitely the most accomplished college player in this draft come off the board. Brunson’s shooting and post game make him an interesting and unique player who projects to be an excellent backup for Dennis Smith Jr. Can they even play together?
Sporting News: B+
A solid selection for Dallas here. Brunson isn’t a high-upside prospect, but he could be a backup in the league for a decade. The 6-2 point guard is effective knocking down shots off the dribble, can post up weaker defenders in the post and is a smart decision-maker. He was the No. 32 prospect on our board.
Ray Spalding - 56th pick
CBS Sports: C
His ability to fill a box score is intriguing, but he also has a lot of holes to his offense and might not be big enough to make the same defensive impact.
Sporting News: B
Spalding is an athletic big man who delivered impressive defensive numbers during his junior season at Louisville, averaging 2.2 steals and 2.5 blocks per 40 minutes. Figuring out what his offensive role can be at the NBA level will be crucial. The 21-year-old is positive value for the Mavericks here.
Kostas Antetokounmpo - 60th pick
CBS Sports: A
If you’ve got a chance to grab Giannis Antetokounmpo’s brother with the 60th pick, you do it. He’s got great measurables, and he’s worth the flier (on a former Flyer).
Sporting News: D
Beyond the name and the 6-10 frame, it’s not clear what Antetokounmpo actually offers as an NBA prospect at this stage. He played just 15 minutes per game for Dayton as a freshman. This is a purely developmental pick that likely won’t return much value.
The splashy pick is Doncic, but the Mavericks also picked up a proven winner in Brunson who could potentially be Dennis Smith Jr.’s backup point guard for years to come. Spalding and Antetokounmpo represent project picks who will spend time in the G League, and the reviews are a mixed bag. For picks that late in the draft, it would be considered a huge success if they made any contributions at all.
Based off media reactions alone the past two years, it appears the Mavericks are kind of good at this drafting thing, which begs the question why they haven’t been valuing it all these years. Ah, but let’s save that for another day.