Every year Dan Feldman, of the TrueHoop Network blog, Piston Powered, organizes a mock draft including all the sites in the Network. One representative from each site makes the hypothetical picks for their team, and this year I represented The Two Man Game and the Dallas Mavericks. This is a straight draft and there are no provisions for trading picks, you simply select the player that best makes sense for your team at that position. With the 13th pick, I selected Michael Carter-Williams from Syracuse University.
Since he declared for the draft, Carter-Williams has been linked to the Mavericks in a variety of rumors, although very rarely with any substance attached. If you’re not familiar with his game, he’s a 6-5 point guard with questionable shooting ability. His percentages — 39.3% from the field and 29.4% on three-pointers — reflect not so much a broken shooting form as an undeveloped sense of what makes a good shot. He’s a solid passer, smooth in transition and capable of creating good looks for both himself and teammates out of the pick-and-roll. Although his defensive capabilities come with all the standard questions of someone who spent his entire collegiate career playing in Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone, his length and athleticism suggest the ability to defend multiple positions, most more than adequately.
I know Carter-Williams is not the most exciting pick; while he may have the potential to contribute right away, it will mostly be in complementary ways. He projects to be a solid NBA player, but nothing about his game screams “instant-star.” The Mavericks are in the indelicate position of trying to compete at a high level in the immediate, for the sake of Dirk Nowitzki’s twilight, while still building for the future. It’s an incredibly complicated balancing act and one that doesn’t have a great historical track record of working out. In fitting Carter-Williams into this context he probably lands more of the future side of the equation. Using the 13th pick in the draft to build mostly for a later incarnation of the team inevitably takes something away from Nowitzki’s present, and I would completely understand if fans or the organization feel that is too high a cost.