Quick game. NBA 2K’s blacktop 5 on 5 mode. Pick a team. Here are your candidates.
Team 1: Marquis Daniels, J.J. Barea, Nick Fazekas, Ahmad Nivins, Jae Crowder
Team 2: Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Dejaun Blair, Danny Green, Gary Neal
Even my undeniable love for Jose Juan Barea can’t look past the tragedy that was Nick Fazekas. Undrafted out of Auburn, Marquis ‘Quisy’ Daniels became a fan favorite but his end value can be summed up by who the Mavs acquired for him ;a very veteran Austin Croshere. (If you can’t remember, imagine Keith Van Horn at his worst on a bad day…then also totally recall Matt Carroll)
Jae Crowder is brand new and coming off a strong rookie season with the Mavs, a phrase not used much in recent memory. In fact, Crowder became the first Mavs 2nd round pick to start a game his rookie season since Greg Buckner (1999-2000).
Ahmad Nivins was the 56th pick in 2009 and you’ve never heard of him but he fits this segway too darn well as we introduce the starting lineup for team two.
Ten years before Nivins was made the 56th overall selection, the Spurs made the first member of this team the 57th selection. Nivins and Ginobili were both no namers but the story doesn’t need re-telling on how good Manu has become.
(Gut Punch: the Mavs had picks in 1999 and chose Leon Smith (29 via SA surely enough), Wang Zhizhi (36) and Gordan Giricek (40); last draft under Ross Perot’s turrible, turrible ownership) If you wanted a happy article, pick a playoff team
Luis Scola would have been a Spur if not for the financials of signing players from their foreign contracts. David Stern wouldn’t allow the BFF(‘s with Manu) discount and the Spurs had to deal their most recent late-draft discovery.
Dejaun Blair and his ACL-less knees fell right into the lap of GM R.C. Buford and San Antone at pick 37 in 2009. (Yes, the Roddy B draft…see italicized statement above)ng
Then there’s Gary Neal. Undrafted in 2007 and not signed until 2010 surely he can’t be anything special. But then you see it was the Spurs that signed him and then you see his jump shot and then you aren’t surprised at all when he joins names like Blake Griffin and John Wall on the first All-NBA Rookie Team.
Impressively a list the Spurs frequent when each year they’re supposed to be “getting older and slower.”
The last time the Mavericks had a player on an all-rookie squad, it was 2003 when Josh Howard and Quisy Daniels made the second squad. But Jarvis Hayes also made that squad so how can you possibly feel good about that?
Howard, 2003, also represents the last Dallas first rounder to become a key member of the team. But i’m purposely focusing on the 2nd round of the draft only because while I’ve acknowledged a somber tone , it would be much more frustrating to show how the Mavs have messed up their annual back-of-the-round selections in the first round, more so the second…
….where it’s much more forgivable to see a player fall flat or not even make the roster.
The NFL has 7 rounds, the MLB has a minimum of 40, and the league with ice also rounds out at about 7. But simple logic reveals the importance of an MLB round 29 pick stacked up against an NBA 2nd rounder.
NBA – 15 roster spots + a few D-Leaguers
NFL – 22, 11 on both sides of the ball + practice squad members
MLB – 25 (40 in September) + hundreds of Minor League prospects.
NHL – boring and needs a new Commissioner.
Balance it out and really the NBA could last with only one round, but that’s 30 potential careers lost for an aspiring pro baller among many reasons. However, for the reasoning that teams could survive year-to-year with one successful selection, it appears the later picks are treated not as draft picks but draft rights. Meaning teams go with a cheap young player filled with promise (aren’t they all?) instead of looking down the draft board at a currently superior talent but with perhaps a lower ceiling.
2007 is a grrrrrreat example:
Via trade, the Mavericks had four 2nd round picks. Their own was traded but via ATL they took the awful Nick Fazekas at 34 – Glenn “Big Baby” Davis goes 35th. They trade for Magic draftee and former Tarheel Reyshawn Terry 44th – Marc Gasol goes 48th. Lastly they couldn’t resist an international project/prospect Renaldas Seibutis, at pick 50. Pick 56 would be Ramon Sessions, who didn’t project anywhere near the upside of a Seibutis or a Milovan Rakovic (the Mavs drafted and traded his rights) but a steady NBA point guard with a skill set much more polished than filled with potential.
Six years later…
Sessions averaged 14 points a game this season for Charlotte in the first of two cozy years where he will earn $5 million each.
Seibutis still playing over in Lithuania but hey, look at the very dimly lit side, we have his rights!
After missing the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons and several roster spots open for the 2013-14 campaign, every draft pick Dallas has this June, no matter where it resides (as of now 13th and 44th- 13th could be higher [lottery]) will play as big a part of the Mavericks’ future as any picks they’ve had in the Cuban-era.