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The Dallas Mavericks’ process for the 2023 NBA draft is a major step in the right direction

Drafting is the key to sustainable team success in the modern NBA.

2023 NBA Draft Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s by pure happenstance that for the first time in a decade I found myself out of the loop during a major transactional period for the Dallas Mavericks. In early March my wife asked if I thought going to Mexico in late June was a good idea, I said sure. After all the Mavericks were playoff bound and wouldn’t have a draft pick! It made total sense to say yes.

Then we all know what happened. So, with the leadership team at Mavs Moneyball (Josh, Jordan, Ben, and Doyle) telling me to just go and not worry about it, I did! Only… it was draft night! My wife didn’t even get mad as I looked at my phone throughout a dinner with friends. I even had a chance to explain to them what was going on and my interpretation of events.

And it was a really eventful night! I find myself really, really pleased with the goings-on too. A trade back with Oklahoma City to move on from David Bertans while getting a trade exception and a player the team targeted fairly early in the process in Dereck Lively II is objectively great process even if I am a bit skeptical of the player chosen. Then moving into the draft again through the Sacramento Kings to select Olivier-Maxence Prosper while taking on Richaun Holmes is simply excellent asset management. Getting Mike Miles Jr. as a two-way guy feels like cheating!

We all tend to play fantasy general manager too much these days, but I think we’d all agree that during the Luka Dončić era the “win right now” focus has challenged the team’s ability to build something sustainable. I have begged with the basketball gods for the Mavericks to stop trying to skip steps in the championship process and to simply build a team using all means (specifically using draft picks).

I have no idea if either player is good, we can have other MMB staff fill us in there. I don’t think Holmes has much to offer anymore. But change begins with small steps, and I think Dallas has initiated a process which is the wisest path towards building the kind of contender we’ve hoped for since 2018. We’ve seen things not pan out before; the 2020 draft which featured the Seth Curry for Josh Richardson trade, to go along with two picks in the second round, neither of which worked for the Mavericks.

And that happens! Faith in a process is valuable, knowing that the plan you’ve laid out is solid and the work behind the plan has purpose is important. Results trump process, of course, and it is way better to be lucky than good. But Dallas hasn’t been very lucky in free agency for some time. The changes in the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement necessitated a different approach from Dallas (not to mention the salary cap had hemmed them in to a tough path). Now they have some fascinating options ahead, including Kyrie Irving and perhaps one of the midlevel exceptions (I’ll leave all that to CBAMavs). Either way, I’m excited and I feel good about the Dallas future. It’s been sometime since I’ve been here and it feels great.