The Dallas Mavericks traded the 10th pick and Davis Bertans on Thursday night to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 12th pick in the draft, where they selected Dereck Lively II. Additionally, they used the trade exception created in that transaction to acquire Richaun Holmes and the 24th pick from Sacramento, where they chose Olivier-Maxence Prosper. Here are our grades for the draft.
In short, Dallas was a massive winner on draft night. Under process alone, the Mavericks made all the right plays. Staying in the lottery and getting their guy while also dumping Bertans’ contract is an absolute win. Then, trading back into the first round and getting a wing, and later signing undrafted guards Mike Miles Jr. from TCU and Jordan Walker from UAB put the icing on the cake. They both addressed needs, created flexibility and created momentum as the off-season gets underway. This was almost the perfect draft day scenario, and it sets the bar high for the rest of the summer.
Straight A’s: Nico Harrison
Dallas was dead in the water on Wednesday with one draft pick, multiple negative contracts, and no cap space. Nico Harrison deserves a lot of credit for turning that into a possible MLE, multiple young building pieces, and a veteran center. The Mavericks have a history of draft-day disappointment, but now two years in a row they have been excellent, trading back in for additional picks. With the clock ticking on the Mavericks’ chances to build around Luka Doncic, they are certainly making strides in the right direction with their back against the wall.
Potential Fail: picking Dereck Lively II
Although Lively might turn out to be a fine player, picking a limited center in the lottery is usually bad, historically. When you need versatile wings to win in the modern NBA and have one of the top talents in the draft fall to your feet in Cam Whitmore, you simply have to take him. Dallas knew they were trading back into the first round anyways, and probably could have gotten Lively later regardless. Centers are becoming what running backs are in the NFL: short shelf life guys with diminishing returns that can be picked up in the latter portion of the draft or in free agency.
Although Whitmore fell considerably (which raises a concern), Dallas absolutely should have taken him at 12. In a vacuum, Lively will probably help this team a lot. But much like Josh Green, it’s hard to separate his objective value from the expected value based on where he was selected. He’s a role talent picked in a spot where you swing for star potential.
Extra Credit: Richaun Holmes
It is quite comedic how the Mavericks have a habit of obtaining players a few years after the fanbase wants them to sign. Richaun Holmes joins the likes of DeAndre Jordan and Deron Williams in this category but hopefully, he can have a better stint with Dallas than those two guys did.