For the next few weeks, collegiate hoops will dominate the sports world, and rightfully so. March Madness is upon us.
This is a great time for NBA fans to watch some crazy basketball, scout some soon-to-be NBA players in the biggest moments, and set their sights on who they want their team to draft come June.
The final weeks of the NBA season will shake up the standings, but right now, it’s looking like the Mavs will be picking somewhere between numbers 19 and 25. That means there will be a variety of guys to choose from. Usually, around that spot in the draft, there are some thought-to-be lottery guys who are falling and some thought-to-be second-round picks who are rising. This will put the Mavs in an interesting position.
2020 was the last year the Mavs had a first-round pick. They selected Josh Green with the 18th pick, passing on guys like Saddiq Bey, Precious Achiuwa, Tyrese Maxey, Immanuel Quickley, and Desmond Bane.
Green has turned into a fine eighth or ninth man on the roster, but any of the aforementioned guys would look, um... sensational next to Luka Doncic. Hopefully the Mavs do better with their first round pick in 2022.
Here are some guys for fans to pay attention to during basketball nirvana, otherwise known as March Madness.
Walker Kessler — Auburn
Walker Kessler is a massive human being and a shot-blocking machine. He’s one half of the best frontcourt in college hoops, and he’s one of the main reasons the Auburn Tigers have a chance to win the title.
Kessler is averaging a whopping 9.8 blocks per 100 possessions and has learned to do so without getting himself in foul trouble — a major issue for a lot of shot-blockers, especially young ones.
The main problem with Kessler and the Mavericks is that he’ll likely be off the board by the time the Mavs are selecting. He’s typically thought of as a guy that will be gone before pick 20, but could even sneak up into the lottery.
Trevor Keels — Duke
If you’re not a likely top-five draft pick, playing at Duke often means you’ll be overshadowed. That’s been the case for Trevor Keels.
Duke is loaded with NBA talent like Paolo Banchero, Wendell Moore, and AJ Griffin. Trevor Keels is far from a polished prospect, but he’s not far behind those guys in terms of raw skill.
Keels is a do-it-all point guard with a nice, solid frame at 6-foot-4 and over 220 pounds. He’s strong, he can handle the rock, his jumper is smooth. If the Mavs decide to move on from Jalen Brunson (which I hope they don’t), Keels would be a guy who could help out in the backcourt.
Caleb Houstan — Michigan
Caleb Houstan is one of the most talented players in this draft class, but a less-than-stellar freshman year has him projected to fall into the late-first round of the draft.
Some of Houstan’s struggles can be blamed on the underwhelming season Michigan hoops is having. Some would argue that Michigan shouldn’t have even made the tournament. But I’m happy they did. Houstan is a guy that Mavs fans might fall in love with.
His length and his smoother-than-butter shooting stroke make him a tantalizing prospect. His inability score from other areas on the floor might be an issue, but let’s see how he does in the tournament. You might only be getting one game of Caleb Houstan, so be sure to keep your eyes on Michigan’s first-round game.
Christian Braun — Kansas
Christian Braun is my favorite potential Maverick. The 6’6 Kansas wing has everything the Mavericks should want. He’s a capable shooter, he’s incredibly bouncy (like, he will dunk on anyone), he rebounds at an elite level, and he’s switchable on defense.
He’s the ultimate do-it-all guy that will likely carve out a lengthy NBA career. He doesn’t have that high of a ceiling, but he’s the prototypical role player in today’s NBA.
E.J. Liddell — Ohio State
If the Mavericks want to add some frontcourt depth, E.J. Liddell should be a go-to target. He’s only 6-foot-7, but he plays bigger than that. He averages 19.6 points per game on 49.2 percent shooting from the field and 37.6 percent shooting from deep to go along with 7.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Not only is he a guy that can score from anywhere on the court at any given moment, but he also averages an astounding 2.6 blocks per game. At 6-foot-7, blocking shots at that rate should be illegal.
Liddell is the real deal and will make whatever NBA team drafts him extremely happy.
The Buckeyes are a seven seed in this year’s tourney, but don’t be surprised if they make a run. And if they do, pay attention to Liddell.
David Roddy — Colorado State
David Roddy is an enigma.
The Colorado State star is only 6-foot-5, but weighs over 250 pounds. He’s built like a Suburban but moves like a Mini Cooper. He does a great job of combining his low center of gravity with his strength to get wherever he wants on the floor. He rebounds with the best of them. He shoots the lights out.
The man can do anything he wants on the basketball court, despite looking more like a football player.
It’s unclear what Roddy’s role will be in the NBA. His build is something completely unique. One thing I’m confident in, though, is that he’s a pure hooper. Those guys find ways to make it.
Ochai Agbaji — Kansas
Ochai Agbaji was the Big 12 Player of the Year and a First-Team All-American for the Kansas Jayhawks. The reason I saved him for last on this list is because he’ll almost certainly be gone by the time the Mavericks are on the clock. If they want him, they’d have to trade up and get him. I’m not sure what that would take, but I know it’s worth looking into.
Agbaji is a mega-athlete, often catching lobs for the Jayhawks. He’s also a deadeye shooter.
He doesn’t project as the type of player who can be a number one or even number two option on offense, but he’ll likely be an impactful role player the second he steps on an NBA floor. Think Desmond Bane in that respect.
KU is primed to make a deep run in the tournament, so there should be no shortage of Agbaji film in March.