As the NBA’s draft lottery approaches, let’s take a look at Cason Wallace, the 19-year-old native of Richardson, Texas who spent the 2022-23 campaign playing at the University of Kentucky. He’s projected in the range where Dallas is most likely to be in the draft. So, assuming the lottery math works in favor of Dallas and they keep their draft pick, let’s fantasy book Cason Wallace in a Mavericks uniform.
Wallace is a true combo guard listed at 6’4 and weighs 185 pounds. The 2022 McDonald’s All-American finished the 2022-2023 season with Kentucky Wildcats averaging 11.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. Wallace also finished the season with 63 steals on the season. John Wall and Rajon Rondo (with 66 and 87, respectively) are the only players with more single-season steals in a season as a Kentucky freshman than Wallace’s 63.
Kentucky had an underwhelming campaign, but it wasn’t because of Cason Wallace. He was a solid shooter from distance and particularly from an area the Dallas Mavericks focus on; the SEC All-Freshman guard shot 15-for-31 (48.4 percent) on corner 3-pointers, per CBB Analytics. Wallace is an assassin in the middle of the floor; Cason shot 51.2% from 2 this season with Kentucky and feels at ease employing runners and floaters.
He’s also one of the best point-of-attack defenders available in the draft. He can be a disruptive guard defender with his instincts and high defensive IQ.
Although he performs admirably off catch-and-shoot opportunities, Wallace doesn’t seem as comfortable setting up his three-point shot opportunities. Cason could lack the go-to scoring potential that some clubs expect in a top pick. Wallace only attempted two free throws per game in 32 contests this season.
Fit with the Mavericks
The 2022-2023 Dallas Mavericks’ offensive was doomed when their 3-pointers failed to fall. Although I don’t expect Cason Wallace to be as good as Jalen Brunson, it would still be nice to have a player on the team who isn’t afraid to attempt midrange shots. He has specific tools that could benefit Dallas right now.
A best-case scenario for Cason Wallace might be Jrue Holiday. In terms of profile there are real similarities: including his defensive impact, classification as a combo guard, and ability to make an impact through talent and feel rather than agility. In addition, Wallace is an exceptional athlete considering his height and long body. He is able to block shots and poke the ball around the perimeter.
Cason’s progress will depend on fit and the team environment. Although Jason Kidd isn’t my ideal choice for the Maverick's head coach, it’s hard to argue the good Kidd has done for Jaden Hardy and Josh Green's development. It seems unlikely that Dallas would draft another guard-type, were they to stay in the 10th slot, but Wallace’s talent and local connection make him a fun player to consider.