A Link To The Past

Posted by Ian Levy on June 27, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

This old man

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.

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When All Other Lights Go Out

Posted by Jonathan Tjarks on January 9, 2013 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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For the first time since Mark Cuban became the owner, the Mavs have to start thinking about the draft lottery in January. Even with Dirk Nowitzki rounding back into shape, Dallas may have already dug too deep a hole through the first two months to get back into the playoff picture. According to John Hollinger’s Playoff Odds, the Mavs have a 0.1% chance of making the playoffs and they’ll need to hurdle the LA Lakers, Utah and Minnesota just to get to No. 9.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a Tim Duncan, LeBron James or even an Anthony Davis-type prospect in this year’s draft. However, just because there isn’t a franchise-changing player available doesn’t mean 2013 is a “weak draft”. So while Dallas may be tempted to shop their pick, unless they are blown away by an offer, they would be wise to upgrade their talent base with one of the many excellent prospects that might be available to them late in the lottery.

While the Mavs have been selling their fan base on using the cap flexibility they created two years ago to find another superstar, that ship has almost certainly sailed. Most of the players on the NBA’s “superstar carousel” have found long-term homes, while the two biggest prizes this summer — Chris Paul and Dwight Howard — are unlikely to choose Dallas over Los Angeles, especially when the Mavs have so few on-court assets to woo them with.

Dallas isn’t going to find a player who will make them a contender in the draft, but they can start accumulating assets that move them back towards respectability. Potentially, the slotted positions of three players in next year’s starting five appear spoken for, with Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion (who should be able to maintain his current level of production at small forward indefinitely) under contract and O.J. Mayo, whose elite shooting ability makes him a viable long-term answer at shooting guard, a potential returnee should he opt to become a free agent. And while finding a center in the draft who can contribute immediately is almost impossible, almost every draft has a few quality, NBA-ready point guards. The class of 2013 is no exception.

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