Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reported last week that the Dallas Mavericks are looking to move up in this year’s draft, which was music to my ears. Until then, I hadn’t considered the prospect of Dallas moving up, but that got my trade-oriented mind racing.
Mike Fischer of Dallas Basketball SI reported that the Mavericks have already interviewed Saddiq Bey, Tyrese Haliburton, and Desmond Bane. Here are a few other prospects that I think Dallas might look to select if they can move up in the draft with the intent to keep the pick.
Which pick(s) could Dallas acquire?
Let’s start with Boston’s 14th overall pick. Boston doesn’t seem like they want to bring in rookies as they’re clearly in ‘win now’ mode. Next, Phoenix’s pick at 10th overall could be available. At one point, Phoenix was looking to move off of the 10th overall pick and are potentially willing to attach Kelly Oubre to the pick in order to create some cap space. Another potential option could be Atlanta at six. The Hawks have also made it known that they’re open to moving off of the 6th pick if it means they can add someone that can instantly become a part of their rotation. The Washington pick is the least likely, however, if their draft targets are off the board, the Wizards might look to trade back or even just trade their pick altogether for an already proven player.
Dallas should keep their eyes on Onyeka Okungwu, Isaac Okoro, Saddiq Bey, Obi Toppin, and Precious Achiuwa. Given their roster needs it is very possible that Dallas may try to move up to acquire a pick that they could later flip a pick for a bigger piece.
Okungwu is a name to keep an eye on; he could see a draft night fall. He could be a top 5 talent in the draft, but teams like Atlanta, Detroit, and New York could be prioritizing wings and guards. Okungwu would be the type of pick that Dallas should be salivating at the thought of. He would be a terrific complement to Kristaps Porzingis and fits the overall team need. A lot of people are looking to add 3-and-D wings through the draft, but I think if Okungwu falls, he needs to be top priority.
Toppin is a risky prospect: he’s very much a boom or bust prospect. If I were general manager for Cleveland or Charlotte and looking to make a selection that could change my franchise, Toppin is not the selection.
But, for a team that finds themselves towards the top of the draft that also happens to already have their franchise cornerstone player, Toppin could be a great gamble. For Dallas specifically, he could be a very exciting player. He’s got fantastic size for the modern NBA and shows the ability to stretch the floor. While I don’t think he would immediately be inserted into the starting lineup, he would have plenty of opportunities to prove himself. With his athleticism and versatility, he would be a great fit next to Porzingis. Even if he doesn’t become a clear starter, he would be a fantastic piece to have coming off the bench.
While Okungwu and Toppin are projected to go between fifth and ninth, Nesmith is projected to go around 12th. Nesmith is a very different prospect from Okungwu and Toppin, but he would also be a great addition for this roster. He’s a 6”6 wing who shot 51 percent on 8 three-point attempts per game. Read that again.
We all know how much the Mavericks value three-point shooting, so Nesmith would surely fit right in. He’s got a solid frame and a 6’10” wingspan, which is something that will certainly not go unnoticed by the front office when looking at him as a potential selection.
Saddiq Bey and Tyrese Haliburton
Bey and Haliburton were already interviewed by the Mavs per Mike Fisher, so this isn’t a surprise. What’s interesting to note is that those guys are both predicted to be selected around the 10th pick. Most observers would assume that the Mavs were trying to trade up for the Boston pick or one of the other last few picks of the lottery.
Bey is discussed as one of the most underrated prospects in the draft. He’s a 3-and-D wing that averaged 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists per game in 34 minutes in his second year at Villanova. He could play a significant role for this team even in his rookie season due to his defensive abilities. We also know how much Carlisle loves those Villanova players.
Haliburton’s interview came as a personal surprise. Haliburton is a 6”5 point guard who averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists per game in 37 minutes per game in his sophomore season at Iowa State. He has strong defensive abilities as evidenced by his 2.5 steals per game, most likely due to his lengthy body type. One concern about Haliburton is his size. He weighs just 175 pounds so he would definitely have to put on more weight as soon as he entered the league.
Some other names worth mentioning include Precious Achiuwa out of Memphis, Killian Hayes from France, and Patrick Williams out of Florida State.
Hayes would be the most unlikely prospect we could get our hands on, but personally I am a big fan of his game. He’s a lefty with a gnarly step-back and great playmaking abilities. The only way Dallas lands him is if the Mavericks trade up to around six. He would be a terrific secondary ball handler.
Achiuwa and Williams are both expected to be drafted between 11 and 14, so it seems they would be the most easily attainable. Both are small-ball bigs who have shown excellent flashes. Achiuwa is 6”9 and 223 lbs while Williams is 6”8 and 225 lbs. They both fit the mold of the type of players Dallas needs, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mavericks were to take either one of them. I like Achuiwa a little bit more especially given he averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks in his first season at Memphis. He has lots of room to grow and would be a great pickup.
In what should be the least predictable draft in recent memory, the Mavericks have a glimmer of a chance to do something unexpected. All of these options listed are unlikely, but considering there isn’t a consensus selection at the top of the draft, things could get very interesting very quickly. Dallas is great at moving quickly in these situations so hold on to your seats on draft night.