By Zack Cunningham
The Dallas Mavericks’ dreams of a potential top-3 draft pick in the upcoming June 21 NBA Draft were snuffed out on Tuesday night, but Dallas will still pick at the No. 5 spot after being jumped in the order by the Sacramento Kings (No. 2) and the Atlanta Hawks (No. 3).
In a cruel twist of irony, despite winning the end-of-season tiebreaker with the Hawks for the third-best odds heading into Tuesday’s drawing, Atlanta still managed to get the better of the ping pong balls and moved ahead of the Mavericks who, just minutes earlier, saw the Kinds move up as well.
It’s the second year in a row Sacramento has had good luck with the lottery.
Coming into Tuesday, the Mavericks had a 13.8% chance at the No. 1 spot and a 43.8% chance of landing in the top three positions. Their highest positional odds were at the No. 5 slot.
While seeing a potential top-3 selection fade away is frustrating, Mavs’ fans still have plenty to be excited about at which names could be available when Dallas’ name is called.
Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic are the near-consensus top 2 picks in plenty of mock drafts. After that is where the choices vary.
Marvin Bagley figures to be the likely choice for Atlanta, a team with needs basically everywhere. The Hawks could also just as feasibly go with Jaren Jackson Jr. to fill their big man need if they think he’d be a good fit with John Collins.
Memphis figures to be a prime Bagley fit if the Hawks decide to pass. I don’t think Mo Bamba or Jackson quite mesh with Memphis’ plans if they decide to retain Marc Gasol for the remainder of his deal. If he’s somehow dealt in between now and the draft then, obviously, that changes.
Then you have Dallas. The Mavericks are very likely looking at the option to pick Michael Porter Jr. or whomever is left between Jackson and Bamba. Opinions on Bamba might be the most widely-varied of any potential draft prospect out there.
Don’t count 105.3 The Fan’s Jeff “Skin” Wade among those.
I can see arguments for both Jackson and Bamba as fits for the Mavericks defensively and while Jackson may be seen as a “safer” fit due to his higher projected floor, Bamba’s upside has the potential to be higher.
That being said, I want to re-iterate that these projections are just that, projections. For the Mavericks to be faced with a choice between a potential Dirk Nowitzki replacement in Porter or a franchise-changing center in Bamba is a good situation to be in.
On to the combine!