121 days ago Dennis Smith Jr. grabbed a Wes Matthews pass out of the air and slammed it home. That moment marked Smith’s first career points as well as the first basket of the 2017–2018 season for the Dallas Mavericks.
Since that October 18th opener against the Atlanta Hawks, the Mavericks have experienced some ups, but mostly downs. They’ve managed to win just 18 of 58 games. You know what winning 31 percent of your games will do in the NBA? It’ll land you firmly planted at the bottom of the standings. For the second straight season (barring a miracle comeback) the Dallas Mavericks will be selecting a young prospect in the lottery.
Where will they pick? What needs will they address? All of that good stuff will get sorted out in the coming months.
So as we continue to consume all things Dallas Mavericks basketball — it’s time dive in & check out some of the youngsters that may someday don a Mavs uniform.
Mohamed Bamba is a freak of nature. The 19-year old Bamba, who mans the middle for the Texas Longhorns, possesses an absurd 7-foot-9 wingspan. He affects opposing offenses by his mere presence on the floor.
He shrinks the floor on the defensive end and can serve as a solid roll man on the offensive side. In 25 games with Texas, Bamba is averaging 13.7 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.0 blocks on 54.4 percent shooting. He has even shown some ability to stretch the floor.
If you want to play center in today’s modern NBA, offensively you need to either be a reliable roll man with the ability to snag alley oops or space the floor with perimeter shooting. Bamba has the ability to excel as both.
Look for the Mavs to take a nice hard look at the Harlem native if they are selecting within the top 5.
Games During Mavs Break:
2/17: Saturday, 12 PM EST vs. Oklahoma. ESPN
2/21: Wednesday, 9 PM EST vs Kansas State. ESPNU
Deandre Ayton is a physical specimen. He’s a man amongst boys at the college level. At 7-foot-1 and 260 pounds with a 7-foot-5 wingspan — Ayton already possesses the prototypical NBA big man body. He’s got game to go with the body. He would be a starter on more than half of the NBA teams right now. Through 26 games at the University of Arizona, Ayton is averaging 19.5 points and 10.7 rebounds on 60.4 percent shooting. Did I mention he is just 19 years old?
Ayton’s game fit just fine within this pace and space era of basketball. He shoots with touch, evident by his 73.8 percent free throw shooting (96–130). He can stretch the floor shooting 34.5 percent from 3 on 28 attempts this year. He’s made 1 of his 3 attempts from the NBA 3-point line. He’s shooting 48.6 percent from the long mid-range. Thanks to his size and athleticism, he’s a monster at the rim shooting 80 percent (118–147). He is scoring 1.18 points-per-possession this season which ranks in the 98th percentile in college basketball.
As physically imposing Ayton is out on the court, one of his glaring weaknesses is his ability to block shots. He averages 1.8 blocks per game with a 5.9 block percentage. Those are low numbers for a player of that size. For reference, two players projected by many to be in the same breath as Ayton, Mohamed Bamba and Jaren Jackson average 4.0 and 3.3 blocks per game with block percentages over 13 percent.
Ayton is just 19. The NBA game will be a big adjustment, but his freakish physical profile should help the transition to the pro game. If the Mavericks land a top 2 pick — Ayton definitely will be the conversation.
Games During Mavs Break:
2/15: Tonight vs. Arizona State 9 PM EST. ESPN
2/22: Thursday vs. Oregon State 9 PM EST. FS1
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jaren Jackson Jr. is coming off an absurd performance against Minnesota. Check this video out:
27 points in 22 minutes!? 5 3-pointers! Jackson may not have the upside like that of Ayton or Bamba but he certainly can step in and contribute to an NBA team right away. He has excellent size at 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan.
He does all of the things you want from a modern big in today’s game. On defense protects the rim and he has the foot speed to switch out onto smaller guard out on the perimeter. He’s a modern 5 playing out of position for Michigan State at power forward.
Jackson has appeared in 28 games for the Spartans where he is averaging 11.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks in just 22.5 minutes per game. He is shooting 44 percent from the college 3-point on 79 attempts.
One of JJJ’s glaring weaknesses is fouls. Jackson needs to work on staying out of foul trouble. He averages 8.1 fouls per-40 minutes. If he can stay out of foul trouble look for Tom Izzo and his staff to extend Jackson’s minutes when conference and NCAA tournament games start.
Games During Mavs Break:
2/17: Saturday, Northwestern 2 PM EST. FOX
2/20: Tuesday, Illinois 7 PM EST.
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