Finally — the NBA Draft is here. We’ve now had plenty of time to watch the film, look over the stats and imagine scenarios; probably too much time.
Over the months, we’ve written prospect profiles, answered the big questions and looked at who the Mavericks are projected to pick. Now, it’s time for us to name our favorites.
The seven of us who enjoy discussing the draft at the site ranked our favorite prospects (out of the pool of players we’ve profiled, so we didn’t include unrealistic options such as LaMelo Ball) one through ten, then created this consensus list using averages. Here’s how the results turned out:
Ten: Jaden McDaniels
McDaniels is still a very raw prospect. He just turned 20 in September, perhaps an explanation for the inconsistencies we saw in his one year at Washington. At 6-foot-10, McDaniels has a ton of length for someone who mainly played small forward but is listed at only 200 pounds. He offers a lot of potential with the 31st overall pick, but also a lot of risk.
Nine: RJ Hampton
Coming off a mediocre season in the NBL, Dallas native RJ Hampton is still likely going to be selected in the first round. He is arguably the quickest player in the draft and dominates in transition. There is still plenty to improve upon, especially the sub-par 29.5 percent shooting from deep in his singular professional season. It’s likely going to be a few years before Hampton reaches a consistent production level.
Eight: Kira Lewis Jr.
It’s seemingly impossible that Lewis will still be on the board when the Mavericks select at 18. The athletic phenom is coming off an impressive sophomore campaign where he demonstrated his ability to create for teammates and score around the basket. With a range that has shrunk mainly into the lottery over the past few months, don’t get your hopes up.
Seven: Josh Green
Green projects as a three-and-D wing that could fit on any roster, but especially one thin on wings such as Dallas. Entering the draft after only one season at Arizona, Green still has plenty of potential but also multiple swing factors. Adding versatility with his shooting, improving his handle and finishing more consistently in the paint will play a big part in determining the kind of NBA player Green becomes.
Six: Saddiq Bey
Bey appears to have solidified himself as a lottery pick, but there could be a number of things that lead to a draft night slip. The most notable weakness for Bey is a lack of athleticism, which could cause him to struggle creating his own offense and defending the perimeter in the league. Even if Bey never develops an off-the-bounce attack, he should still end up being one of the better three-and-D players in his class.
Five: Cole Anthony
Cole Anthony was perhaps the most heralded incoming freshman heading into last year, but quietly fell off due to injury and North Carolina having a disappointing season. Luckily for Anthony, he still possess all the tools to be a damn good NBA player. Driving to the basket, rebounding and creating shots for teammates are all translatable skills that could make him valuable to any franchise.
Four: Tyrese Maxey
Maxey has the potential to be one of the best guards in this class. With his ability to finish at the rim, come off screens and defend elite ball handlers, all the desirable skills are there. Maxey will have to improve his three-point shot, which was below 30 percent last year, but the mechanics appear to be promising. Another guy who likely won’t fall to 18, but would be a great fit next to Luka Doncic.
Three: Aaron Nesmith
Nesmith had a three-point percentage of 52.2 last season. Obviously that number won’t be that high in the league, but it demonstrates just how gifted of a shooter he is. His ability to shoot a wide variety of shots compensates for the lack of any other noticeably good skill in his game. His defense, passing and finishing around the rim are all par or worse, but if he can hit shots at a high-level, he could give the Mavericks some much needed depth at the wing.
Two: Aleksej Pokusevski
Pokusevski, affectionately nicknamed “Poku” by those familiar with the prospect, is the home run swing of this draft. If he reaches his ceiling, he has All-Star potential and could be an offensive anomaly on the basketball court. If he can’t manage to add weight and strength, he could be out of the league. Poku is certainly a gamble, but could give the Mavericks yet another gifted offensive player if he can put some meat on those bones.
One: Desmond Bane
Bane checks all the boxes for the Mavericks. He is an incredible off-ball shot maker, has shown potential to be a secondary playmaker and can finish around the basket. His tank-like frame gives him the ability to guard guards, wings and bigger forwards in bursts. He has the most versatile shot in this class, getting buckets off-the-dribble, hitting catch-and-shoot jumpers and knocking down shots off-screens. He probably won’t be a guy that loses defenders with his handle or dusts by them in transition, but he would still be a picture-perfect fit in this offense.