With the NBA Draft just days away, we’re taking a quick glance at players across the floor that might be available when the Dallas Mavericks are selecting at 37th in the second round. Like it was mentioned time and again in our look at guard prospects, there are some specific holes the Mavericks need to fill if they want to truly compliment the two-man game of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
Here are some of the big men that could still be on the board when the Mavs are on the clock, and how they might fit in Dallas next season.
Luka Samanic (International)
6’11 227 lbs
The Croatian forward Luka Samanic had been lurking around the early second round on many draft projections for much of last year. His appearance at last month’s NBA Combine vaulted him up many scouting boards, something that happens every year when a fringe first rounder opts to work out at combine week and performs well. Samanic is a long, athletic scorer that projects to be an NBA stretch four with some defensive versatility. He just needs to fill out his broad shoulders to play both power forward and center.
In Dallas, Samanic could slot in nicely off the bench as an athletic scoring wing. It’s possible he could be a decent compliment to Maxi Kleber (should he return). He’s light on his feet and moves down the floor well. Samanic is likely to be selected in the late first round, but if he’s still available and the Mavericks are interested in possibly drafting a player that they let develop more overseas, Samanic could be an interesting option.
Jontay Porter (Missouri)
“Sophomore”, 6’11 210 lbs
Another Porter is headed into the draft, and unfortunately just like his brother Michael Porter Jr., injuries have plagued him recently. Porter missed his entire sophomore season after tearing his ACL and MCL in the fall...then tore his ACL again in March during rehab. He’s going to have to take time to be sure he’s fully healthy, but Porter (who doesn’t turn 20 until the end of the year) has loads of potential.
He joined his brother at Missouri a year early in the hopes of playing together, and was impressively growing as a player as the season progressed his freshman year. He slimmed down, got into better shape, and flashed the kind of ability that would have made him a lottery pick had he played his sophomore season.
In Dallas, Porter could be the ideal compliment to Kristaps Porzingis in the post. He’s a great passer, can hit the three, and plays fantastic team basketball. He’s an analytics dream, will do a lot of the little things that you don’t want Porzingis or Luka Doncic to have to focus on, and will quietly produce. The Mavericks will need to determine if they believe Porter can get healthy again. If they can give him the time to recover slowly, Porter might be one of the best second rounders in this draft.
Daniel Gafford (Arkansas)
Sophomore, 6’11 237 lbs
The springy, mobile big man out of Arkansas exploded onto the college game last year. Had he opted to stay in the draft last summer he would have been a lock in the first round. He’s solid screener, avid rebounder, an engaged shot blocker, and looks like the ideal NBA lob threat. Another year in college showed that his mechanics defensively aren’t great away from the basket, and that he might be confined to the paint on both ends. Still, there is a place in the league for super athletic big men.
For the Mavericks, Gafford would be a nice bench center that would allow for Porzingis to play power forward for stretches, not having to worry about protecting the basket or grabbing rebounds. Rick Carlisle’s offense works best when he has a vertical threat, and Gafford certainly could be that. Gafford’s question marks away from the lane may cause concern, but he could be an interesting center project.
Isaiah Roby (Nebraska)
Junior, 6’9 214 lbs
The smooth Nebraska forward is often seen in projections around the early second round. He’s a solid ball handler for his size, comfortable handling in transition or through traffic. The mechanics of his jump shot look sound, though his numbers haven’t backed that up (career 34 percent three point shooter in three seasons). Still, Isaiah Roby projects to be a possible Three-and-D forward that could switch through screens and body opposing forwards. Whether his lack of assertiveness on either end will work against him is still to be determined.
If the Mavericks were to select the combo forward (something often projected in a variety of mock drafts), Roby could be a nice addition off the bench playing the power forward, though it may not cause anyone to jump out of their seat. He looks to be a high-IQ player, something Carlisle values. The possibility that his three point shot never develops should leave a question mark for the front office. That said, if he does improve, the Mavericks could use versatile forwards on next season’s squad.
Eric Paschall (Villanova)
Senior, 6’7 254 lbs
Outside of tournament success, Jay Wright’s Villanova teams have churned out some intriguing NBA prospects, and Eric Paschall is another. Though in another era Paschall may be pushed aside as a “tweener”, he possesses enough valuable tools that he should find a role on an NBA team. He’s undersized as a traditional big man, but uses his size well to body players, and is athletic enough to switch out away from the basket. If he can boost his outside shooting (shot 35 percent the last two seasons from three), he could become a very valuable power forward in the league.
In Dallas, Paschall would primarily play the power forward, though it’s possible Carlisle could try him as a small forward in some ultra-big lineups. Paschall is an athletic two-foot leaper, and could be a fun tandem with Maxi Kleber (though Kleber is best suited as a four as well). The one thing going for Paschall in Dallas is the Mavericks’ love of “veteran” college players in the second round.