As the Dallas Mavericks slowly fell to Father Time during the twilight years of the Dirk Nowitzki era, I slowly found myself reading more and more about prospects and watching other members of the basketball intelligentsia discuss up and coming players eligible for future drafts.
It was in this way that I fell into an obsession with Luka Doncic in 2017 that lasted the entire NBA season, right up until the Dallas Mavericks conducted a draft day trade in 2018 which changed the course of the franchise.
While I am by no means a draft expect, as the self appointed General Manager for this years annual SB Nation Blogger Mock Draft, I selected Aleksej Pokuševski with the 18th overall selection. As you’re likely well aware, today is also unofficial Poku Day at Mavs Moneyball as those of us on staff who love the idea of Poku as a Maverick decided it was time for a show of force. Or everyone happened to turn in their articles and podcasts at the right time and we just lucked into it. Either way, this was the rationale for the selection during our draft:
With the 18th pick the Dallas Mavericks select perhaps the most polarizing player in the 2020 draft. The Mavericks won’t have a pick this high (or a pick, period) for years, so this is their last chance to add raw, young talent to their roster. Does he make sense for the short term? No. But if Poku can add weight and perform against better quality talent, he might just be ready for Dallas right when Luka Dončić’s rookie extension kicks in and it gets more difficult financially to add pieces to the Mavericks. His skill set and size it just too much to ignore at this point in the draft.
This general assessment is echoed by SB Nation draft guru Ricky O’Donnell here:
Pokuševski is this year’s international mystery man in the draft — and the fact that he might have the highest long-term upside of any player available only makes him more tantalizing. Poku is a 7-footer with flashes of shooting, ball handling, and creative playmaking. It just requires a leap of faith to take him in the mid-first round because his tape is so limited to this point and his body needs so much development with a professional training staff.
And let’s face it: the Maverick training staff is already working with one wonky seven footer with questionable biomechanics. Adding another to their workflow should be straight forward enough!
In all seriousness, the likelihood that anyone the Mavericks take at 18 is on the roster past four years is low. The NBA is a tough business and as we all know getting top quality players through any means is hard. Heck, just look at this list of guys taken 18th sorted by number of career games played
This, if anything, is another reason for the Mavericks to swing big. Poku might end up being another in a long line of mid to late round projects that never pan out. He also might end up being a truly unique player in a game that’s had so many one-of-a-kind guys throughout it’s history.