Last night against the Los Angeles Clippers, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle finally pulled the trigger on a move that I’ve been wanting for weeks now. He started Seth Curry at point guard, alongside Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki and Nerlens Noel, while bringing Yogi Ferrell off the bench. The reason this move was needed, and was inevitable, is because Dirk and Harrison needed to be put back into their natural positions to make way for Nerlens to start at center. Dirk playing center is fun at times, and everyone gets a kick out of it when he doesn’t even attempt a jump ball, but sooner or later, you knew something had to change. For Noel to start though, Carlisle had to choose between Yogi, a true point guard, and Seth, who is listed as a shooting guard, to be the Mavs starting floor general. He chose Seth Curry, and the results from that move were awesome, as the Dallas Mavericks went on to beat the Clippers for the 2nd consecutive time.
— NBA (@NBA) March 24, 2017
Curry shinned in his first start at point guard, scoring 23 points (9-of-14) to go along with 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Noel continued to prove that he is worthy of staying in the starting lineup also, as he scored 8 points (4-of-8), 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Although I like Yogi a lot, and I know the Mavs do too, bringing him off the bench in a J.J. Barea-type role is probably for the best going forward. If he can bring the same type of energy off the bench as he did as a starter, he should thrive as a 6th man. There won’t be as much pressure on him now, being that he’ll mostly be taking on other team’s bench players.
All of this got me thinking: If all stays the same between now and the end of the season, and Curry continues the thrive at the starting point guard spot, does this change the way the Mavs approach the 2017 NBA Draft? Up until now, it has been widely assumed that Dallas will draft a point guard this summer. But with Seth Curry only being 26 years old and showing flashes of being a special player, I think the Mavs will have a much more opened mind when it comes to what position they draft. Let’s be honest for a second. This team, as it sits right now, is a playoff team if given a full season together. Injuries played a big part in the Mavs starting off the year with a 4-17 record, but since then, they have posted a record of 27-23, getting them back into playoff contention. It’s not like they’ve just been beating up on lottery teams either. Dallas has quality wins over the Cleveland Cavs, San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers (2x), Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards (2x) during this playoff push. To me, that shows what could have been, had this group had an entire season together.
All that being said, when you look at the Mavs depth chart right now, this is what you see:
|Point Guard||Seth Curry||Yogi Ferrell, J.J. Barea, Devin Harris|
|Shooting Guard||Wesley Matthews||Manny Harris|
|Small Forward||Harrison Barnes||Dorian Finney-Smith, Nico Brussino|
|Power Forward||Dirk Nowitzki||Dwight Powell, Jarrod Uthoff|
|Center||Nerlens Noel||Salah Mejri, A.J. Hammons|
On paper, that roster looks pretty solid if some of those players, like Dwight Powell and Salah Mejri could be a little more consistent on a nightly basis. Judging by what Dallas has now, and assuming that some of those players won’t be here next season (Manny Harris and Jarrod Uthoff), I’d say the Mavs need to focus on mainly on drafting a shooting guard. Look, Matthews is super hard worker, and due to his defensive intensity, he’s still one of the Mavs top players even when he’s going through a shooting slump. But Wes will be 31 years old before next season starts, and will be halfway through his 4-year contract with the Mavs. If a good, young shooting guard is available, now would be the perfect time for the Mavs to draft one. That being said, the only real shooting guard I believe to be worth a lottery pick is Kentucky’s Malik Monk. He’s been projected to fall anywhere between 5th to 9th in the upcoming draft. And hey, if Dallas is out of range to draft Monk, I’d be willing to trade up for him.
Power forward is another position the Mavs should focus on, being that Dirk is going to be 39 years old this summer, and Dwight Powell doesn’t seem to be the long-term answer, at least not as a starter. A player that seems to be flying under the radar, to me, is Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac. I’d say if the Mavs are looking for a future star in the 8th-12th pick range of the draft, Isaac is probably the most realistic option for them. If I had to bet, I’d say the 6’11” athletic forward will be available by the time the Mavs are on the clock. If he’s going to be a true power forward, he probably needs to add a little weight. Being that he’s only 19 years old, Isaac has a ton of room to grow. Could you imagine a blossoming front court of Jonathon Isaac (7’1″ wingspan) and Nerlens Noel (7’4″ wingspan)?
All of this is hypothetical of course, and if a point guard like Dennis Smith Jr. is available when it’s the Mavs’ turn to pick, it’s going to be hard to pass up that kind of talented player that has drawn Russell Westbrook comparisons this year. If we’re being honest, the Mavs just need more talent, period, regardless of position. However, if things continue to go will with Seth Curry running the show, and the Mavs keep winning, we could see a shift in the Mavs’ draft focus heading into the summer. The young starting point guard they’ve been looking for could’ve been on their roster this whole time, just in the wrong position.
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