Ok the draft is finally here. You can be sure that Donnie Nelson will screw this up...Oh wait he already has. Donnie Nelson somehow managed to screw the franchise _before_ the draft has even started, yesterday trading away our highest pick in 4-5 years for a lower 1st. The Mavs Brain Trust (MBT) saw fit to move from 22 to 24 in exchange for two second round picks from Portland, 2009 and their lowest one in 2010. Why? Why the hell not?! I mean how often has Donnie chanced upon a second round pick who has made a lasting contribution to the team in the last 5 years? Anyone...Anyone...Bueller? The Mavs official justification: "We can get the guy we want at 24 and who knows who how useful one of those seconds can be?"
This is truly disturbing. This draft is about 21 picks deep in terms of 1st and 2nd tier talent and 20 players deep (which excludes freshman center BJ Mullens who is a project) in terms of players that can make contributions as starters or as critical backups to any and every NBA team. The Mavs admit that they are ready to commit to a player _outside_ of those two tiers, a third tier talent, who, despite what they believe, will not make any substantial contributions to the team in 2009. In fact they are so ready to make this commitment, they were ready to do it before the draft shook out and risk losing out on a player that might slide to them at 22.
The chance that a second tier player would have slid to them at 22 can be regarded as most likely because this draft is full of second tier players from picks 13-21 with assessments of them by each NBA team all over the map. It would only take ONE team to reach on a third tier player or for a player to merely slip due to concerns unrelated to ceiling - injuries, attitude - for the Mavs to snag the next Josh Howard. Clearly, the MBT have determined that the second tier talent ends much sooner than my prognostications, and I feel confident that they are wrong. But then, that is a Mav's feeling that has been with me for years...
OK to get to my player rankings(no particular order within each tier and compiled from studying the profiles and rankings at draftexpress and nbadraft.net):
Tier One (1-12)
Tier Two (13-21)
Tier Three (22-39)
As they have since Finley's release, the Mavs need a well-rounded swingman who can start. And, of course, they may need a starting PG, so unless they want to be completely screwed on 7/1 if Kidd declares FA, they could take a contingency player in this draft. In fact, how could you not do so? If I'm Kidd, there is absolutely no way I return to the Mavs for the money, as they have ZERO chance to win a ring. To that effect, almost all of the Tier One point guards are worth trying to trade up to get (and the swingmen too really), though I don't like Curry as a PG.
If any of the Tier 1 swingmen or points fall into the Tier 2 range, you make a play for them. Now that the Mavs have an even _worse_ 1st round pick, this becomes all the more difficult. The Tier two players that I don't like for the Mavs are C BJ Mullens and SG JEff Teague. The ones that I would consider trading into the 13-21 range to get are: SF Sam Young, F/G Terrence Williams, PG Ty Lawson, PG Eric Maynor, and F Earl Clark. I would only trade up for these guys if you think they can start now in the case of Williams, Young and Clark, or, if they can be primary backups this year who can develop into starters by 2010 in the case of Lawson and Maynor.
The Tier 3 players that I like are limited really, and most will be career backups who do one thing really well - rebound, defend, pass, score - but none of them really well in combination. The exception might be sophomore PG Nick Calathes headlines the bunch, but he has signed for a Greek team in 2009-2010 so he won't be coming over to the NBA until 2010. His defensive limitations might mean he is a third/combo guard but that is still a pretty high ceiling and his potential to develop into a starter makes him a pretty good value pick. If the Mavs pick him, then they will need to add another first or make a substantive trade in the summer to bring in a swingman or point to get help _this_ season.
The only other guy that I like that could develop into a starter at the SF position is F Derrick Brown. His game is offensively deficient, and he would never really be a true swingman, just a tweener forward really, as his ball handling and shooting mechanics will always be below average. Where he does excell is being an excellent defender at two positions, freakish length and athleticism. In a word, he is not the scoring, slashing, shooting swingman that the mavs need but could start on other teams who have scoring at 3 other positions already.
Three players from this tier who could become valuable backups in an 8-man rotation would be PG Darren Collison, G Toney Douglas and SG Marcus Thornton. Collison is a fundamentally sound pg whose calling is above average defense. Douglas is a tweener point - a shooting point really- with average pg skills at best whose calling cards are scoring and defense. Thornton is a poor man's Jason Terry, but not as athletic, or quick and with a less-developed in-between game - a catch and shoot guy for the most part.
The problem with these five guys, and the principle reason why staying at 22 is immensely more sensible than moving to 24: none of them will help you next year and any substantive way.
One player who I don't really have a handle on is DeJuan Summers, a tweener F with a PF body and a SF game. IMO he doesn't project as a starter but might become a good backup. Beauty will be in the eye of the beholder I just hope it isnt the Mavs as he won't be ready to start next year and their really won't be any minutes for him unless Bass or Wright are traded.
So, what do I hope happens today? I hope the Mavs can trade for a swingman or trade into the top 10 to draft an elite swingman or point guard. The second tier guy that I like the most is Terrence Williams, a poor mans Boris Diaw/Thabo Sefolosha/Anthony Parker type who would be ideal for the Mavs as an all-around offensive player, terrific athlete and excellent defender. The ideal accidental scenario would be to have a second tier player fall to them, really unlikely now that the idiocy that is the MBT decided that 24 was better than 22. The reality is that Calathes will likely be the best value pick at 24. If Sam Young or another second tier player falls to Portland at 22, one letter of the MBT deserves to be axed.
However, that is assuredly _not_ what the MAvs will do. What will the Mavs do you ask? They will likely draft the next P-Pod or Maurice Ager or Cortney Alexander or Martin Muursepp or Xue YuYang or Vassilis Spanoulis or Mladen Sekularac, Fazekas, Bruno Sundov - you get the picture. And you will be forced to listen to Junior' trite post-draft cliches: this kid can really play, he can jump out of the gym, just the kind of guy we need, we think he can help us, he can really shoot, he plays really good D, blah, blah (see the Maurice Ager tapes)....
So just what kind of picks give Junior b-ball happy pants? Here are a few: Rodrigue Beaubois, Chase Budinger, Patrick Mills, Jonas Jerebko, Taj Gibson, Omri Casspi, Austin Daye. If you see any of these picks scroll across your espn ticker going to the Mavs, it is time to retire the green and blue Tee and cancel your League Pass gear up for training camp.
I will say this, if they Mavs pick anyone other than the players outlined in this missive (I am an expert after all), they will be busts and a prelude to the Mavs breakup unless some blockbuster trade it made. Hell, I'll even take just a _smart_ trade; I'm easy like that. As a Mavs fan, I only hope that once the Mavs are broken up into a rebuilding state, Junior is not the ship's captain; WAKE UP CUBES! - you've become a Nelson-family tool.