This season has been a struggle for the Dallas Mavericks to put it nicely. I usually try to stay positive about the Mavs playoff chances until the very end, but when you have only 7 wins in 27 tries, the writing is on the wall. With that being said, there is positive side to all of the on-court misery. The Mavs and Philadelphia 76ers are currently taking turns being the worst team in the NBA. If that trend holds, then it is pretty much a given that Dallas would receive the 1st or 2nd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. This year’s class is loaded down with elite talent, and we are going to discuss some of the best prospects that could come in and help the Mavs immediately.
Markelle Fultz, PG
Stats (current season): 22.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 6.1 apg
Thoughts: Fultz, overall, is probably the most talented prospect in college basketball right now. Out of the other prospects listed in this article, Fultz is also the youngest. He possesses that rare Russell Westbrook-like explosiveness that will help him achieve superstar status in the NBA sooner rather than later. His size is good for his position, and he has the potential to be a great defender when you factor in his athletic ability and basketball IQ. Not to mention, the kid has nearly a 6’10” wingspan. The only thing keeping me from being all in on Fultz is the fact that his Washington Huskies team is only 5-5 so far this season, and it’s not as if they’re playing elite competition either. Therefore, his stats may be slightly inflated due to the level of competition he’s played against. Nevertheless, Fultz is a supremely talented prospect that the Mavs should think long and hard about drafting if the opportunity presents itself.
Josh Jackson, SF
Stats (current season): 15.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.4 apg
Thoughts: Let me be clarify by saying that I don’t think the Mavs should draft a small forward. They have that position locked up for the foreseeable future with Harrison Barnes, barring a surprising trade. However, If Jackson is the best prospect remaining by the time the Mavs get to draft, they would have to at least entertain the idea. I would rather Dallas draft the most talented player available than settle for a subpar point guard prospect that doesn’t look like a franchise-type player. Jackson isn’t as versatile as the point guards on this list, but he has great size for a small forward. His play-making ability and 3-point shooting is lacking a little bit so far this season, but having length and elite athleticism makes everything a little better.
Dennis Smith, PG
School: N.C. State
Stats (current season): 18.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.1 apg
Thoughts: Dennis Smith is another elite point guard prospect that I wouldn’t mind seeing in a Mavs uniform next year. With only a 6’3” wingspan, this kid doesn’t have the length that both Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball have. That in itself probably lowers his ceiling as far as defensive potential goes, but he does have that natural athleticism that separates him from the rest. The freshman has helped his N.C. State squad win 9 of its first 11 games. Although they haven’t gotten into the thick of ACC competition, Smith should cause some real headaches for his opponents as the season goes on.
Lonzo Ball, PG
Stats (current season): 14.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 8.7 apg
Thoughts: Lonzo Ball is my personal choice for who the Mavs should draft if given the opportunity. Standing at 6’6” and having a wingspan of 6’7”, Ball has the kind of size that teams dream of when thinking of point guard prospects. Averaging nearly 9 assists shows just how committed Ball is to getting his teammates involved in the game. There is no doubt in my mind that he could average more points if he wanted to, he just doesn’t have to at this point.
Lonzo Ball is the most proven of the prospects on this list because of his play against elite competition so far. The UCLA Bruins started out the season unranked, and now they sit at No. 2 in the nation. A lot of that has to do with just how good Ball has been this year. On December 3rd, UCLA played at the (then ranked No. 1) Kentucky Wildcats for a tough road test. The Bruins won 97-92, with Ball scoring 14 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. It is early, but a lot of people have been comparing Ball to former Maverick great, Jason Kidd. The Mavs desperately need that kind of guy running the show again. They need an all-around point guard that will make great decisions, while also having the ability to score and rebound the ball. To me, Ball is the most NBA-ready player on this list, and would contribute at a high level immediately if the Mavs are able to grab him in June.
Who Do the Fans Want?
I have my own thoughts, and the Mavs front office will have theirs, but my fellow staff writer, Nick Angstadt, wondered what MFFLs in general thought about the Mavs potential draft prospects. After running a Twitter poll, the consensus pick was Lonzo Ball by a long shot. Every few weeks from now until the end of the season, we will continue to run polls to see how opinions change based on the players’ performances. Until then, it’s clear that Mavs fans are embracing the “Fall for Ball.”
If the Dallas Mavericks finished with a Top 5 pick, which player would you want them to draft? #MFFL
— DallasSportsFanatic (@Dallas_Fanatic) December 16, 2016
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