Having its highest pick in the draft in 24 years, the Mavericks front office has to be feeling pretty good about their chances at landing a rookie that will be a contributor for years to come. With the fifth pick, they have a chance at adding a big like Mo Bamba or Marvin Bagley. Or maybe they go after an offensive minded player like Michael Porter Jr. or the craft play maker in Luka Doncic.
But what if Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson decided to take a page out of Boston GM Danny Ainge’s playbook and trade back in the draft? Ainge is notorious for his aggressive trades, like last years draft when he flipped the number one overall pick (which was picked up in another trade with the Nets) to Philly for the third pick in the draft and a future pick. The pick worked great for the Celtics as they ended up with Jayson Tatum and still have a future piece they could add.
If the Mavs were looking to trade back in order to gain future assets, here’s a list of prospects they could try to grab later in the first round.
If They Wanted to Stay in the Top 10:
Trae Young PG Oklahoma:
Okay… okay… okay…here me out before you dismiss this. I know it won’t happen. Having two guards under 6’3” starting on the perimeter would be asinine, but try envisioning a backcourt of Dennis Smith Jr. and Trae Young. How fun would that be? Imagine for a second, as Smith penetrates to the bucket and as the defense collapses to stop him, he kicks it back out to Young who lets it fly five feet from beyond the arc and drains it. They would combine for 60 points some nights. The Mavericks would be one of the most entertaining teams in the league.
But as they go for 60, that backcourt probably gives up 75 on a nightly basis. He is going to be a defensive liability on the floor as he’s not the quickest guy and will have to hit the weights to build up strength.
I think it’s safe to say Trae Young won’t be a Maverick after Thursday night.
Mikal Bridges SF/SG Villanova:
Someone who might fit what the Mavericks want is Bridges. The 6’7” junior is the quintessential 3-and-D player, as he was a standout defensive player for the 2018 national champs and hit 2.5 triples a game while in school. He might be one of the safer bets in the draft outside the top tier players, as his game is probably the most NBA ready.
One concern about Bridges is that he’s not a physical player, which is evident as he only shot 3.4 free throws a game. If he’s going to try to draw more contact at the next level, he will need to put on more weight as he comes in at 210 lbs. He will also be 22 at the start of the season. While maturity shouldn’t be an issue for him, his ceiling won’t be as hight as some of the other prospects who are two or three years younger.
Wendell Carter PF/C Duke:
I’ve gone on record about my love of Mo Bamba, but my favorite big guy in the draft who isn’t Bamba might be Carter. At 6’10” and 250 lbs, he has the body to bang around in paint of NBA arenas around the league. He also polished on the offensive side of the ball, averaging 13.5 in his one-and-done season in Durham. He is also a very smart dude, as he was accepted (and almost attended over Duke) into Harvard.
However, one problem Carter might run into is playing against guys who are more athletic than him. Although he’s built like an ox, but Carter could struggle against small ball lineups as they might be too quick for him. He’s a descent athlete but struggles with explosiveness, which scouts say hinders his ceiling.
End of First Round:
Mitchell Robinson C USA
Robinson is somewhat of a mystery as he hasn’t played organized ball in almost a year. A 2017 McDonalds All-American, Mitchell was set to attend Western Kentucky but was suspended for violating team rules. After not being able to transfer to another school, Robinson decided to sit out the season and enter the 2018 Draft.
On paper, Robinson looks legit. He’s a 7-footer who weights 225 lbs and is pretty athletic for a five. In the 2017 Nike EYBL, he averaged 20 rebounds per-40 minutes, which was the best in the competition’s history. Also during EYBL, he showed promise as a defensive anchor as he led the league in blocked shots per game.
But Robinson did kind of quit on his college team and didn’t do himself any favors by not facing any competition since high school. His desire to play and character concerns are also questions Robinson will have address if he wants to have his name called in the first round.
The Mavs are sitting in a spot they haven’t been in years. They could stand pat and take a talented player at five or trade back to select someone while building up capital for future drafts. Whatever happens on Thursday, the team finally looks to be trending in the right direction.
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