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Draft questions: Which position takes priority?

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The Mavericks are a good team, but they have plenty of areas to shore up with their two draft picks if they decide to use them.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Detroit Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Last week, we addressed the rather looming question of if the Mavericks have any intention of using their 2020 draft picks at all. We settled on the idea that they should at least use one but given that this is all draft coverage there’s a fair amount of hope from us that Dallas builds through the draft and uses both picks. Then, we covered the impossible question of whether to select a high floor player or gamble on a guy with a higher ceiling.

Here’s the next question we have five weeks out from the NBA Draft, this time bringing in one of our draft experts Ian Cobb to help answer it for us.

Question: what position should the Mavericks focus their attention on?

Ian: At the end of the day, I’ll almost always prefer going with talent first and figuring out the rest later. Past history has shown logjams have a way of working themselves out, and much more often than getting two elite players with redundant skillsets is the scenario where eschewing quality in favor of fit backfires.

However, if we assume a hypothetical where Dallas is on the clock and they have two guys both with essentially the same draft grade, I’d prefer the team select a wing. If the Clippers series taught us anything, it’s that competing in high-leverage playoff situations requires long, switchable defenders who have the size and strength to battle the plethora of lethal wing stars that sit atop the Western Conference.

Kirk: A wing player has to be their highest priority this off-season. Now, whether that means draft or free agency or what, I’m not sure but watching Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith battle it out all year against the NBA’s best ball handling wings is not a sustainable path to success. Each of those guys is fine, but Dallas needs more depth there.

Problem is, at least as far as the draft is concerned, is it feels like with the 18th pick the Mavericks might be in a poor position to select from any of that first tier of wing-type guys.

Ian: That is exactly the problem. Looking at the top 20-25 projected guys at the moment, my view is that the strongest area of depth is at guard, where you have several big lead guards at the very top, and a bunch of combo guards currently being mocked in the teens and 20’s. There’s a chance with so many names, one guy — maybe Tyrese Maxey, maybe Cole Anthony — gets pushed into the Mavericks’ range at 18. While I certainly think a wing is the bigger area of need, if Dallas is enamored with one of those guys, I hope they have no hesitation pulling the trigger. At the end of the day, I’ll almost always prefer going with talent first and figuring out the rest later.

Ideally, if you took one of those combo guards, you could still end up with someone like Desmond Bane at 31, who is still being mocked in the 40’s somehow. I’m not sure I believe that’s going to happen, but there are a few promising wings that might still be around in the 2nd, such as the pair of Arkansas Razorbacks Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones, or perhaps someone like Tyler Bey or Leandro Bolmaro falls to 31.

Kirk: I imagine myself reacting poorly to Dallas drafting a combo-guard of some sort at 18, just because I’ve never been one to care about “value” in a draft where everything is projections based. If Bane is the guy, go get Bane and figure out the rest later.

But I waffle on this all the time. I want the ball out of Luka Doncic’s hands just a bit more and the idea of Cole Anthony on Dallas makes me unreasonably excited. Right now, I want Dallas to take a wing, preferably two wings and sort out the rest later.

Also, I’m glad that we aren’t even considering big men at this point.

Ian: Bane’s going to be the guy we keep coming back to and with good reason, but there are other two-way guys Dallas might like just as much, including Villanova standout Saddiq Bey, Arizona swingman Josh Green, and others. Playmaking guards are always in vogue, but with Luka on the roster, the Mavs can afford to load up on peripheral guys who can defend and make open shots, even if they don’t have major ballhandling chops.

Answer: The Mavericks should take a wing based on roster need but best player available is the most likely route.

Part of why this draft is so fun to consider at this point is how completely fluid it is throughout. Right now, there’s the broad assumption that wing players like Aaron Nesmith and Bey won’t be there at 18 when Dallas drafts, but we just don’t know.

There’s not a person in Mavsland who thinks they are set in terms of wing depth, so hoping for a wing player at 18 over all or 31 is reasonable to the point of being boring. At least Dallas has the hard part figured out in this team building process: Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are the core of what we hope will become a championship level team.