In perhaps one of the most important drafts of the franchises future, the Dallas Mavericks are locked in to the 18th overall pick. At that spot, the majority of stars will likely be out of reach and the Mavericks will instead be looking for a high-level role player. Let’s scan some recent mock draft’s and see who some outlets have Dallas taking. I’m also going to ranking these picks from my least favorite to most favorite while explaining why.
ESPN - Theo Maledon
Theo Maledon is a 19 year old combo guard who spent the past year playing professional basketball in the Euroleauge. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony cited Maledon as a “seamless fit alongside Luka Doncic”, which is an interesting hypothetical. Maledon looks best in the pick-and-roll as a ball handler, but can also play off the ball a bit. He looks really good in catch-and-shoot situations, but can also take a dribble and knock down a shot. That would provide some good offense for the Mavericks whether Doncic is off or on the court. The reason this pick is so low for me is due to poor defensive. One big issue for Maledon on defense is consistency. Whether that’s due to being so young or simply disengaged, it’s concerning. He is also very slow laterally, which really limits he ability to keep up with quicker guards. I’m sure Maledon would find ways to contribute for the Mavericks, but I don’t believe the defensive liability is worth his offensive upside.
Sports Illustrated - RJ Hampton
From right down the road, Little Elm’s own RJ Hampton is one of the most intriguing players in this draft. Hampton is undeniably my favorite athlete in the draft and is the quickest prospect I’ve seen since De’aaron Fox. In terms of combo guards, I think Hampton is a much better fit than Maledon. Hampton thrives in the pick-and-roll and makes almost all of his threes in catch-and-shoot situations. After initally being one of the top prospects in this draft, his stock plummeted after a disappointing season with the NBL’s New Zealand Breakers. Hampton averaged just 8.8 points per game in 20.6 minutes played. His shooting averages were no better, shooting under 50 percent from the field and 29.5 percent from three. If his shooting improves and he defends a little bit more aggressively, there’s undeniably room for him right beside Doncic. But those improvements not coming to fruition could make him obsolete.
CBS Sports - Precious Achiuwa
Regarded as one of the best centers in the draft, Precious Achiuwa would have a clear role as a Maverick. Showing me flashes of Jerami Grant, Achiuwa is a pure rim-running big man. He’s a force in the pick-and-roll, crashes the glass well, and is a good defender inside and out. As much as I enjoy Achiuwa, I don’t see how he gets significantly better. Improved decision making on shots could make him more of a catch-and-shoot threat, but even that is testing his limit a bit. If the Mavericks draft Achiuwa, I think it’s time to move on from Willie Cauley-Stein (if he opts in). There just won’t be a need for another big man similar to the play-style of Dwight Powell. Drafting Achiuwa would be safe, but I’m not sold on just how much he could actually contribute (yet).
Bleacher Report (Jonathan Wasserman) - Aleksej Pokusevski
As our editor-in-chief Kirk Henderson has continued to shake his virtual fist at me in favor of Pokusevski, I have become more sold on him as a Maverick. There is no larger gamble in this class than Pokusevski, who I’ve seen as high as the first overall pick and as low as a bottom second rounder in big boards. Pokusevski is a seven footer who plays like a wing. He has incredible passing ability, promising shot form, and the ability to defend almost anyone on the court. There are just two things standing in the way of Pokusevski becoming a star: his weight and his shooting. Pokusevski is very skinny at only 205 pounds, which forces him to defend mainly the four. I guess this wouldn’t be too big of an issue if the Mavericks want to continue playing Porzinigs at the five, which appears to be the direction they’re heading. Still, you’d hope for Pokusevski to put on a bit of muscle and to get in the weight room beginning yesterday. His jump shot is really holding Pokusevski from being able to play as a massive wing. Despite having a very good shooting form, that hasn’t exactly turned into production yet for Pokusevski. Per Synergy Sports, Pokusevski shot 18.8 percent on jump shots and 23.5 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers last season. With his weight holding him back from being a force inside, the lack of a jump shot could force him to the bottom of the rotation. If the Mavericks are in the mood to roll the dice this draft, it appears that Pokusevski could have the biggest payoff at their range.
SB Nation - Aaron Nesmith
If the Mavericks are looking to add depth to the wings (they should be), then look no further than Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith. There are few 3-and-D prospects in this class than the sophomore Nesmith. When you look at Nesmith’s numbers, they’re likely to leave your jaw dropped. On eight attempts per game, Nesmith shot three-pointers at 52.2 percent. That was good enough to put him in the 99th percentile in jump shots and catch-and-shoot situations, per Synergy Sports. Even better news for the Mavericks, he’s very active off the ball and was in the 97th percentile of off-screen shots. Although not the most athletic defender, he is proven to be reliable in isolation. There aren’t a lot of lapses from Nesmith, whether on or off the ball. This is a guy who gives 100 percent effort, 100 percent of the time. The biggest question mark for Nesmith is his health. He suffered a stress fracture on his foot that caused him to only play 14 games last season. But if he returns anything close to how he looked then, expect him to be playing big minutes from game one.