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The uneducated guide to 3 potential Mavericks 2023 NBA Draft prospects

Do you never watch college basketball and acquire draft knowledge mostly through other experts and YouTube highlights? You’ve come to the right place!

UCF v Wichita State Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

When you’re running a Mavericks blog and podcast, it is hard to find time to do, well, everything. It’s hard enough to find time to manage, edit, and create content during an 82-game regular season, but to then tack on college scouting? Looking at draft prospects? Forget it! It’s why here at Mavs Moneyball, I mostly stay out of our draft coverage, as we have a team of experts who do put in the time to watch film, watch college games, and put out well-informed analysis on what could be 19, 20-year-old mystery boxes.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t get to have opinions. I just wanted to qualify that these opinions aren’t very valuable. They are based on my own readings from our own staff of experts, other draft analysts and good old-fashioned, never taken out of context YouTube highlight reels. There are three players I have fallen in love with in this draft that have a chance of being available at 10. If the Mavericks ended up with any of these guys, I’d have no complaints. Here are my thoughts.

Taylor Hendricks

Hendricks is a YouTube Hall of Famer in terms of desirable Mavericks draft prospects. Dallas has been desperate for skilled, big, athletic forwards since the Mesozoic Era, and Hendricks is all of that. He’s not a playmaker, but he can put the ball on the floor a little and score, and when the roster already has Luka Doncic and (presumably) Kyrie Irving, the Mavericks don’t necessarily need more playmakers, but just guys that can attack closeouts. Hendricks might not be that guy day one, but he’ll be a pick and pop threat with the room to grow into that role, with all the space Doncic and Kyrie will create.

The theme of these three guys is definitely elite athleticism and size, but it’s also skill. Hendricks isn’t a stiff. He isn’t a guy the Mavericks would have to teach how to shoot or how to get a bucket against 1-on-1 coverage. Hendricks shot 39 percent from three in college, and 40 percent from NBA-range corner threes. Let him cook in the pick and roll with Luka and Kyrie, let him learn to prop up the bench scoring when one of those two is on the bench. It also helps that Hendricks seems genuinely interested in defense, especially as a weak-side rim protector and someone that can switch. Hendricks feels like “what if Maxi Kleber, but more athletic without an aversion to dribbling and making shots inside the three point line that aren’t just dunks and layups” and that seems like a perfect fit for Luka. He’s my pie in the sky prospect at the 10 spot.

Anthony Black

It’s fun to watch the NBA go through phases as every playoff, a new trend emerges. As the league shifted from the brutal rock fights from the mid-2000s into the pace-and-space threes era right around when the Mavericks won the title in 2011, the shift was that defensive minded specialists could no longer exist unless they brought something to the table on offense. This was highlighted in 2015, when the future-champion Warriors basically ignored the Grizzlies Tony Allen on offense during their second round series, letting Allen’s defender roam the court like a free safety in football. That led to the rise and demand of the “3-and-D” player, a defensive specialist that could also spot up and knock down threes, punishing any team that tried to mimic the Warriors defensive strategy.

Now we’re seeing an evolution of that trend. Teams are adjusting more than ever before, and we’re seeing that it doesn’t just take being a spot up shooting specialist to punish a defense for ignoring you. Teams are getting too good at closeouts, or banking on the odds that a 3-and-D player won’t burn them. We saw this firsthand in Dallas, as the Mavericks tried to flood Doncic with these specialists (Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock). It worked to some degree (a Western Conference Finals appearance!) but we’ve seen the limitations of it, as teams now dare those specialists to do more than shoot. You can’t just be a 3-and-D guy anymore, you need to have some off-the-bounce juice. Defenses are too good now to have three or four spot up specialists surrounding one or two star ball handlers. You need more now.

Enter Anthony Black, who feels like the perfect guy to perfect this next trend. Black isn’t a great shooter, and he isn’t currently the type to dominate the ball as a lead guard. However, he is tall, athletic, and a connective passer, a fancy term for someone who can keep the ball moving after an initial action. Think of Black as a Lonzo Ball-like player, someone you wouldn’t want to run a billion pick and rolls every game, but someone that can play on the weakside, receive a pass from that dominant ball handler (Luka, Kyrie) and then keep the ball moving, whether that’s passing to the open man, or driving into the available space created by the other stars. Black has a great feel for the game and his ability to take contact and finish around the rim only makes him more valuable. Black reminds me a little of late-era Mavericks Jason Kidd, except he’s super young and has all his athleticism still. That player seems awfully valuable to me around a couple of ball dominant stars. When Luka or Kyrie draw attention, the players the Mavericks have around them have to do more than just stand still and shoot. Defenses are too good now. Black would be perfect in those scenarios, while also providing excellent defense on the other end of the floor. Look at Ball’s short time in Chicago before he got injured. He shares similar skills as Black (with the obvious difference being shooting), and played a similar role in Chicago that Black would play in Dallas, being the connective player next to two ball dominant perimeter players (DeMar DeRozan/Zach Lavine, Luka Doncic/Kyrie Irving). The Bulls were great before Ball’s injury (27-13 in 35 games in 2022), and I can see Dallas morphing into that with Black in due time.

I’m all in on Black in Dallas.

Jarace Walker

The pitch for Jarace Walker is intoxicating: what if you gave Brandan Wright’s hops to a dude built like Superman? Or to put it another way, friend of the site and draft expert Brian Schroeder described Walker like this in his latest big board: “What if the Terminator was a real guy who played basketball?”

I hate to repeat myself, but how many times have the Mavericks had a badass, physically imposing talent? Never? Walker would be maybe the great athlete the organization has seen in decades, and what’s cool is he still has some offensive skill to tap into. He isn’t just a big, strong dude, although he is that. He also has a floater game, he can make good passes as the roll man in the pick and roll, and his jumper shows enough life that he could develop into a spot up player.

When I wrote my obituary on the Mavericks season, I noted how laughably low the Mavericks ranked on a lot of athletically-based stats: near the bottom of the league in steals, blocks, deflections, rebounds, etc. Basically, any stat that involved running and jumping better than your opponent, the Mavericks were awful at. Walker would be like a shinning, beautiful oasis in the Mavericks roster desert.