DALLAS – With the regular season coming to a close, draft night continues to become more relevant with each passing day. The Dallas Mavericks hold the No. 18 pick in the first round of the NBA Draft this year, as well as the No. 31 pick (the first pick of the second round) from the Golden State Warriors.
The NBA Lottery is August 20; happily, no Mavs concerns there. The Draft is October 16; happily, value to play with there.
If the Mavs choose to keep both of these picks, there will be many opportunities to upgrade the roster with a talented group of 2020 prospects at hand. Below is the first ‘Mavs Big Board’, with exclusions of some of the top players that are simply unrealistic targets, barring a blockbuster draft-night trade.
Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Onyeka Okongwu, Killian Hayes, Deni Avdija, Cole Anthony, Obi Toppin
1. Devin Vassell, Wing, Florida State
Vassell has everything the Mavs need at the wing: positional versatility due to elite length, excellent IQ, a jump shot that likely translates, and the best team defender in the draft. Vassell rarely makes mistakes, and for a young team that has struggled to be consistent defensively, he would glue together the holes the Mavs have created this season. Unfortunately for Dallas, though, Vassell is likely unattainable without trading up in the draft.
2. Isaac Okoro, Wing, Auburn
Isaac Okoro has only one major flaw: shooting. He is one of the winningest players in the country, going over a year and a half before losing a game in either high school or college. Okoro immediately brings excellent defense, ball-handling ability, and slashing ability to the table from day one. While his jump shot is far from NBA-ready, he can still contribute early on in his career. Okoro has a ceiling similar to Andre Iguodala as someone who can impact the game in all areas. Okoro is unlikely to escape the lottery as well, so the Mavs would have to hope for a draft-night fall in order to trade up to select him.
3. Patrick Williams, Forward, Florida State
IQ, versatility, and high upside are the key traits for Patrick Williams. While he is raw, he has shown many flashes of being a capable defender, passable shooter, and a reliable ball handler. Williams was eager to learn defense at a higher level at Florida State, which bodes well for his fit developing next to Luka Doncic and under Rick Carlisle. As a combo forward, Williams’ fit in Dallas is seamless.
4. Tyrese Haliburton, Point Guard, Iowa State
Tyrese Haliburton has been compared to players like Delon Wright and Lonzo Ball, so this fit may be questionable at first. However, if the Mavs view Wright as expendable, Haliburton may be an option worth pursuing as a cheaper alternative, should Haliburton slip out of the top 10-12 picks. Haliburton has unorthodox form, but his shooting is more promising than Wright’s at equal ages, and Haliburton is likely to be a positive on the defensive end in year one.
5. James Wiseman, Center, Memphis
Wiseman is the highest ranked overall player on this board, but him being an enigma in terms of overall evaluation and intel make him a legitimate possibility to be in the Mavs’ projected draft range. Wiseman has the potential to shoot, be a rim runner, and protect the rim. The question for him remains in how likely he can put it all together, but the raw talent is up there with the best in the draft.
6. Saddiq Bey, Wing, Villanova
Saddiq Bey is similar to former Maverick Wesley Matthews: he can switch onto point guards, defend some power forwards, and guard both wing positions as well, while also being a reliable shooter with the ability to post up smaller defenders. While Bey is likely a top-15 talent, the two areas that push him into realistically being available at the Mavericks’ pick are his lack of accumulated defensive stats and lacking explosive athleticism. His value as a 3-and-D wing brings immediate value to Dallas, thus making Bey an automatic rotation player from day one.
7. Josh Green, Wing, Arizona
Green is probably the most athletic player on this list, which is a key factor in his high defensive upside. Currently, Green’s day-one trait in the NBA is his defense. He’s an electric defender that can quickly read plays, which allows him to stop drives before they happen. Offensively, he has a quick first step, but needs to improve his handle. He also is a plus passer with good vision, making some ridiculous passes for a freshman. His swing trait is his jump shooting, which can elevate him to one of the league’s premier 3-and-D players.
8. Tyrese Maxey, Guard, Kentucky
A DFW area product, Tyrese Maxey would greatly improve the Mavs’ perimeter defense from day one. He played in an awkward overall system at Kentucky with two other guards, but he proved he could guard anyone he was assigned to. Offensively, Maxey lacks a threatening three-point shot, but is a plus-finisher at the rim and has great touch on his floater, mid range shot, and his free throws, which suggest potential NBA shooting ability. If his shot comes along, he should easily be, at minimum, a 10-year veteran in the league. With Dallas, he fits great because of his ability to play both guard positions and make Luka Doncic’s job easier on defense.
9. Desmond Bane, Shooting Guard, TCU
A young senior that just turned 22 years old, Desmond Bane had one of the best collegiate careers in TCU history. He also had one of the best three-point shooting careers in recent history, shooting 43-percent from three over the span of four years. Bane has a strong case for being the best shooter in the class due to limitless range, elite spot-up capability, and being able to comfortably shoot off the dribble. Beyond shooting, Bane has elite strength for any NBA player, and also has a sharp basketball IQ. He will have to overcome his short wingspan, but he does not project to be a negative on defense. Bane’s draft stock is wide-ranging, being a strong target for the Mavs at both No. 18 and No. 31.
10. Aaron Nesmith, Wing, Vanderbilt
Deemed by some to be the best shooter in the class due to an absurd 52-percent shooting from deep in 12 collegiate games, there are question marks surrounding the other areas of his game, including defense, athleticism, and slashing. At the least, Nesmith projects to be a very good shooter, which would be a win in the middle of the first round for Dallas.
11. Kira Lewis, Point Guard, Alabama
Kira Lewis is one of the youngest players in the draft, despite being a sophomore. He played his whole freshman season as a 17-year-old and still put up impressive stats. As a sophomore, Lewis made improvements as both a scorer and a playmaker, becoming one of the most well-rounded prospects in the draft. At 6’3 with a good frame and elite speed, Lewis projects to be a positive defender. This makes him a quality fit next to Luka Doncic in the backcourt, as he can play off-ball as well as be a primary initiator.
12. Aleksej Pokusevski, Forward, Serbia
Pokusevski is this year’s draft enigma being the youngest player in the draft with the most unique skill-set. He is a ball-handler with the size of a rim protector, and has potential to stretch the floor as a two-way creator. It’s easy to be drawn to his upside, which makes him a mid-first-round prospect. He needs to add strength and continue to develop his jump shot.
13. Grant Riller, Point Guard, College of Charleston
Riller was a ball-dominant point guard in college, but I think his game would fit well with the Dallas offense. He has a knack for opening shooters up and drawing defenders into the paint, plus has the quickest first step in the draft class, making him a premier slashing threat.
14. Theo Maledon, PG, France
While point guard is not a major area of need, Maledon is a pure swing at upside. Maledon has one of the best combinations of size and length, shooting, and vision in the draft. He needs to be more aggressive in his mindset and won’t wow fans away with athleticism, but a polished version of his current self is a likely starter on a playoff team.
15. Precious Achiuwa, Forward, Memphis
While Achiuwa’s jump shot is a work in progress, he does a lot of other things well. As the focal point at Memphis, he was asked to do a lot more than he is capable of. His best role is as a small-ball center to be a rim runner, pick-and-roll threat, and overall plus defensive presence. Anything beyond those areas is an added bonus for Dallas. Achiuwa is a polarizing player, so he can be a viable option at either No. 18 or No. 31.
16. RJ Hampton, Guard, New Zealand Breakers/USA
A local product, RJ Hampton remains one of the draft’s biggest mysteries. The big cloud hanging over Hampton’s head is if he can develop a reliable jumper. Hampton is very quick and should continue filling out his plus-frame for a combo guard, but the jump shot will be a key factor in determining both if he sticks, and how long he sticks around in the NBA.
17. Tyler Bey, Forward, Colorado
Tyler Bey was the 2019-2020 PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year winner, which is a big reason as to why Dallas needs to have him this high on their board. Despite being severely limited as a shooter, Bey is a plus-athlete with over a 7-foot wingspan and excellent defensive instincts. He can be too passive on offense, but with the Mavericks’ historic offense, they should be able to maximize him pretty easily. Think of Tyler Bey as a Dorian Finney-Smith type.
18. Elijah Hughes, Shooting Guard, Syracuse
As one of the latest risers in my board, Elijah Hughes has one of the best offensive ceilings in the draft class. Hughes can shoot from anywhere on the floor, both off the dribble and on spot ups, as well as use his quick first step to get to the rim easily and finish at an elite level. Defensively, Hughes is hard to evaluate due to the zone defense Syracuse played exclusively. However, his athletic traits and his help defense make him an optimistic projection on the defensive end. Hughes fits very well with Dallas as a potential 3-and-D off-guard. He plays primarily the shooting guard and small forward, but can also be a play initiator with ease.
19. Daniel Oturu, Center/Power Forward, Minnesota
Dan Oturu is a somewhat raw, toolsy big that has many traits of a modern combo power forward/center. Despite being raw, he still found a way to average 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. His rebounding is his most translatable skill, which could be an immediate beneficial tool for Dallas. His best impact early on will be in the pick-and-roll on both ends, where he can dive to the basket very well. Defensively, he doesn’t always make the right decision in the pick-and-roll, but his physical traits make him projectable defensively, as he is very nimble for someone his size. Oturu is a swing on the upside that can be a specialist early in his career as he continues to grow.
20. Jaden McDaniels, Forward, Washington
Another raw project, McDaniels is behind Oturu in the development curve. McDaniels’ immediate tool is his defense, where he was mostly mistake-free. Where he needs to improve is offensive decision making, polishing his jump shot and shot selection, and improving his handle. Jaden McDaniels has the tools to be a high-level player in this class, but he needs the right team to take the chance on him. If McDaniels is available at No. 31, the Mavs may be able to afford a swing for the fences for a potential two-way creator.
21. Paul Reed, Power Forward, DePaul
Paul Reed is a highly athletic versatile power forward with excellent size and length. One of the country’s most prolific defenders, Reed averaged just about two steals per game and nearly three blocks per game. The major questions for Reed are if he can overcome his poor jump shooting form and his inconsistent motor.
22. Zeke Nnaji, Power Forward, Arizona
One of the most efficient floor-spacing big men in the country, Zeke Nnaji is a borderline first round prospect due to his modern power forward traits. It’s unknown how NBA ready Nnaji’s three-point shot is without any in-person workouts yet, but if he can shoot the three at a high level, he becomes one of the best value picks in the draft. Nnaji is one of the best pick-and-roll bigs offensively, but needs to learn how to better defend the pick-and-roll defensively.
23. Isaiah Stewart, Power Forward, Washington
Despite having defensive limitations and athletic concerns, Isaiah Stewart ranks this high due to his offensive profile. As a potential stretch big with an excellent frame that can take defenders off the dribble within 15 feet, Stewart should be able to play a meaningful role for several years. His jump shot development is promising, showing off a quick release from three and a high free-throw percentage. Stewart is raw, so his early minutes would be limited, but as he continues to improve his decision making and slimming down, Stewart will become more relevant for whichever team drafts him.
24. Jordan Nwora, Wing, Louisville
Nwora is one of the best shooters in the draft, going from 37-percent from three as a sophomore to 40-percent from three as a junior with a deeper three-point line. A coach’s son, Nwora has a strong basketball IQ and recognizes plays before they happen on the defensive end. While his athleticism is only mild, Nwora has long arms, so the combination of aforementioned IQ and length could bode well for him in the NBA.
25. Jahmi’Us Ramsey, Wing, Texas Tech
If the Mavs are looking for an athletic spark plug off the bench with an immediate impact, Ramsey is a sharp choice. Ramsey has excellent shooting form and shot 43 percent from three as a freshman. He still needs to improve his defensive habits, his left hand, and defensive consistency, but his upside as a scorer is up there with the best in the class.
26. Robert Woodard, Forward, Mississippi State
Woodard came onto the scene early during the Myrtle Beach Invitational, and kept his momentum throughout the season. Woodard has a slow jump shot, but he was able to successfully shoot over defenders with ease and nice touch, which makes his shot projectable. He’s also a phenomenal athlete and a very good rebounder for a combo forward. He needs to improve his ball-handling, but he will mostly be asked to be a shooter and rebounder early in his NBA career.
27. Killian Tillie, Power Forward, Gonzaga
Injuries plagued Tillie during his four years at Gonzaga, but when healthy, Tillie was one of the best players in the country. While he is not a great athlete, Tillie still moves well defensively and should be able to comfortably switch onto smaller players in the NBA. Offensively, Tillie can shoot, handle the ball in limited bursts, and make great reads to find open teammates. If Casey Smith gives Tillie the medical clearance and he is still available at No. 31, Dallas should make him a top priority.
28. Cassius Stanley, Wing, Duke
Cassius Stanley is one of the most athletic prospects in the draft, which plays a large part in his defensive prowess. Despite needing to add weight, Stanley has exceptional perimeter defense capabilities including very quick feet and high-level recovery ability. Stanley projects to be one of the draft’s best defenders, but his half-court offense remains a big question mark, as well as his spot-up shooting ability. There are rumbles about him going in the late first round, so Dallas might have to get lucky in order to select Stanley at No. 31.
29. Tyrell Terry, Guard, Stanford
While Tyrell Terry has to add significant weight to improve his frame, he is arguably the best shooter in the draft, which automatically makes him a fit in Dallas. Terry is very quick, which helps him get his shot off without many hard contests. Should Dallas take him, he would be able to coexist in a lineup featuring multiple guards due to his ability to thrive off-ball.
30. Isiaha Mike, Wing, SMU
An SMU product, Isaiah Mike has been one of the most under-the-radar players in the country, despite being a 3-and-D wing with plus athleticism. He can earn a rotation spot right away due to his shooting ability, size, and ability to defend multiple positions. He rarely makes mistakes, which makes him a great fit with Rick Carlisle. Mike recently signed with the Chemnitz 99ers in Germany, but has an opt-out clause if he gets drafted, allowing for him to play in the NBA right away.
31. Vernon Carey Jr, Center/Power Forward, Duke
While Carey has legitimate holes in his game, particularly defensively, Carey’s fit with the Mavericks stems from the per-minute production at Duke. The Mavericks, under Carlisle, have had elite production from limited minutes big men with defensive woes. As the most productive player per minute in the country this year, it’s easy to see why he can fit with the Mavs immediately, even if he doesn’t play every game.
32. Ty-Shon Alexander, Guard, Creighton
Another two-way combo guard, Alexander is a plus athlete that had a great shooting season as a junior. He needs to improve his form consistency to sell me fully on his shot, but if he can shoot at a league average rate from three, he is a day-one rotation player. He also needs to improve finishing at the rim, but his main role early in his NBA career is likely to be defensive-oriented.
33. Jalen Harris, Guard, Nevada
A scoring combo guard, Jalen Harris was one of the most productive players in the country this season at Nevada. Despite being somewhat ball-dominant at Nevada, it’s hard to see him playing the same role in the NBA, where he can focus on his slashing and pick & roll playmaking in the NBA. Harris needs to continue improving his jump shot, which would make him an excellent offensive fit next to Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Harris would be able to play a similar slashing and playmaking role that Delon Wright has played this season, with added shooting and explosiveness, and subtracted defense.
34. Leandro Bolmaro, Wing, Argentina
Leandro Bolmaro is a great defender with ideal size, high-level passing, and a high basketball IQ. His best fit comes as being a secondary creator that can also pick up tough defensive assignments on both guards and wings. The area of concern in the NBA is his jump shot, which is shown by his 29-percent from three-point range this season. While strides have been recorded, he still has a long way towards being an effective shooter against close-outs. He should be able to make up for his lack of shooting in other areas, but it could potentially hinder his other strengths.
35. Jalen Smith, Power Forward, Maryland
Jalen Smith’s archetype should make him a lot higher, however there are concerns regarding how his game will translate. As a stretch-four with slashing and defensive potential, the upside and immediate impact are clear. He needs to add lower body strength, continue improving his jump shot, and continue to reduce defensive lapses in order to be effective on day-one.