The NBA draft is always fun. And what’s most fun is when your team is active during the draft. Say what you will, but the Dallas Mavericks were active during the draft and made the night entertaining (as well as the week leading up to the draft). Now that it’s all wrapped up, let’s take a look back at what they did and what they didn’t do.
Let’s start with the move we’ve known about for the longest. The Mavs officially (key word here) acquired Christian Wood for a package of bench players and the 26th pick in the draft. So at the time of the pick, it was technically the Mavs drafting, but it was basically Houston controlling that pick (which they ended up trading anyway).
There has been plenty of analysis on this trade but it still needs to be mentioned here because it was, after all, a draft move, and it will factor into my overall grade.
I won’t relitigate all of the Christian Wood stuff, but I’ll say simply: This was a good move for the Mavericks. They got an athletic starting center who can catch lobs and shoot threes. Boom.
Alright! The most fun part of the night.
It was rumored for a while that the Mavericks were trying to get into the later part of the first round or the earlier part of the second round. There were a lot of good guys available in that range, and a lot that the Mavs would understandably be interested in grabbing.
As the first round came to an end and the second round started, there were a lot of surprises left on the board. EJ Liddell, Trevor Keels, and Caleb Houstan to name a few. Perhaps the biggest shocker, though, was Jaden Hardy.
Hardy was the No. 2 prospect on the 2021 ESPN 100, behind only Chet Holmgren. That means that just one year ago he was thought of in higher regard than Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith, and Jalen Duren. That isn’t to say that Hardy is a better prospect than those guys now. That obviously isn’t the case. But being that high of a recruit isn’t nothing.
After a weird COVID-ending to his high school career, Hardy decided to play for the G League Ignite instead of going to college. He got some good experience, but it was overall a disappointing season. He showed flashes of brilliance but struggled to finish at the rim, didn’t shoot well from deep, and turned the ball over a ton. It wasn’t a great showing.
Even with that, Hardy was still expected to be a top-20 pick by most draft gurus. Seeing him fall to 37 was wild. That’s where the Mavericks stepped in. They traded two future second-rounders to Sacramento for the rights to Jaden Hardy, and it was a steal for the Mavs.
Getting a guy of Hardy’s talent level with the 37th pick in the draft is no easy feat, and it’s one Nico Harrison should be celebrated for.
There were a couple of guys on the board (in addition to Hardy) that I was interested in the Mavericks getting. EJ Liddell fell way further than expected, and he would’ve been a nice fit in Dallas. Same with Trevor Keels, who I’ve wanted the Mavs to snag for weeks.
But ultimately, neither of those guys have the ceiling that Hardy has. The guys they missed out on aren’t as good as the guy they got. So even though I love Liddell and Keels, I’m cool with them passing on those guys to grab Hardy.
The Mavericks deserve a massive round of applause for what they did in the 2022 NBA Draft. They barely gave up anything and brought in a starting center and a young guard with a high ceiling. That’s awesome work.