Cultivating a winner should be the number one goal of any organization. The draft order can be an essential part of that creation. Last seasons timely acquisition of two young stars bodes well for the Mavericks.
Immediate success seems imminent. However, what does the lack of a first-round draft pick mean for a club presumably close to contention in a competitive western conference?
The 2019 #NBADraftLottery order is set. pic.twitter.com/PEbqipMVFL
— NBA (@NBA) May 15, 2019
Draft Lottery – May 14, 2019
With identical regular season records (33-49) the Mavericks, Pelicans, and Grizzlies shared the same odds (6%) for the number one pick. The Mavericks were ultimately removed from the first round completely. They will aqueous their 10th overall pick to the Atlanta Hawks while both the Pelicans (1) and Grizzlies (2) look to make major upgrades to their rosters.
Expecting a single draft pick to completely overhaul any franchise is futile. In most cases, deficiencies of teams picking this early cannot be rectified with a first-year player. Blending young high draft picks and seasoned NBA veterans is an exact science. Just ask the Lakers. They will pick fourth and didn’t reach the playoff after picking second overall two seasons ago. This while adding a Hall of Famer to the roster.
The unpredictable nature of the draft lottery continues to grow. For the first time, the NBA’s three worst records (NY, PHX, CLE) shared odds (14%) at the top pick. Couple this with the uncertainty of depending upon young talent and perennial appearances in this event can be expected. Not to mention the change begins a possible end of the tanking era. The draft is now more random than ever.
The Mavericks lack of draft lottery success shouldn’t be surprising. Since drafting Dennis Smith Jr. (9th overall) in 2017 it had been 19 years (1998) since the team made a selection in the top ten. That sixth overall pick was Robert “Tractor” Traylor from Michigan who never wore a Mavs uniform.
Additionally, the team has participated in the NBA’s draft lottery 15 total times. They have NEVER moved up in the draft. Instead, they have either picked where their record dictated (8 times) or been moved back due to an unlucky lottery slot (7 times).
The club is looking to overcome this historically hapless pattern to create a better squad. Essentially, flipping a young draft pick in DSJ, and a respected NBA veteran in Deandre Jordan. For a young underrated former All-Star along with much needed backcourt depth. The addition of this year’s potential top 5 pick would have just been icing on the cake. The Mavericks front office is accustomed to using unorthodox strategies to reach the ultimate goal. They are one of the more progressive franchises in the league.
Hawks Trade – 2018
Intriguingly the completion of the Luka Doncic trade proved just how valuable the potential Rookie of the Year is. Last year the Mavericks traded Trae Young (5th overall pick) and this year’s 10th overall pick for the rookie forward. Although Young made the R.O.Y. conversation interesting. It’s difficult to argue against Doncic’s worthiness of the award and the mentioned draft picks. His statistically historic rookie season puts him in a class all his own.
The Mavs will not have a first-round pick. Luka can continue his ascension as the team’s bonafide leader. Uninterrupted by the expectations of another top 5 pick. Its extremely unlikely the club would find a significant player with the 37th overall pick (7th in the second round).
No one would admit it but the absence of a strong rookie class conveys to Doncic that he is the future. Highlighting that his production is not just desired but required for the team’s long-term success. If he is the player many around the league suspect this covert form of pressure should elevate his game.
This year’s Mavericks roster is littered with unproven role players hungry to make a difference on a contending team. The club can now channel its focus towards marquee free agents that can quickly progress a rapidly improving roster. Ensuring the upward trend the team showed last year will undoubtedly remain at the forefront.
Not having a first-round draft pick would typically spell disaster for some franchises. However, the Mavericks have anticipated this outcome. They have essentially replaced this year’s first-round draft pick with last years acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis. All the while creating necessary cap space for this offseason. So far KP’s downtime has been tumultuous including a rape allegation, a court case, and a club fight.
That can only force the Mavs to develop a contingency plan. As the incidents accumulate they carry a more significant burden. Moving on from the former All-Star is probably unlikely. Both sides have voiced their desire to ink a contract prior to next season. At this point, KP would prefer less news from TMZ and a renewed interest in his on-court skills.
The Mavericks have placed themselves in an ideal predicament. The Mavs cap space and budding superstar(s) serve as persuasive points in luring top free agents. Approaching these players with a sense of direction and a path to immediate success will be key moving forward. The unfortunate fact there is no first round pick this year can be subdued to some degree.
In the coming days, there should be more speculation about the breakdown. The draft is right around the corner (June 20, 2019) but in the meantime, between time remember.
No pick! No problem!
Photo: Dwain Price Twitter: @NBA Stats: www.Basketball-reference.com, www.NBA.com