Mavericks Must Find Immediate Contributor With 21st Pick


Dirk Nowitzki turns 37-years old this week, and as such, the Dallas Mavericks have the dial cranked all the way to “Win Now” mode in an attempt to get the franchise’s greatest player another roster capable of contending for an NBA Championship.

They’ve gone the free agency route, signing small forward Chandler Parsons away from the Houston Rockets to be another scorer to complement Nowitzki, and serve as part of the foundation for the post-Dirk era.

Dallas has also worked the phones, helping Tyson Chandler escape from New York and pulling the trigger on the deal in December to acquire Rajon Rondo.

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Now they must try find an immediate contributor via the draft with the 21st pick on June 25th.

This year’s Golden State Warriors (most recently) have shown the importance of having a deep bench, especially when you don’t have a guy named LeBron James on the roster.

The Mavericks reportedly have their eyes on some big fish this summer, and if they end up netting one Dallas’  first round selection becomes very important. Heck, it’s important even if the Mavericks don’t add a max contract to the books.

The Mavericks need contributors on the bench, and though it’s unrealistic to expect a rookie drafted two-thirds into the first round to play a large role in his first season he will need to be more than just a cheerleader. It’s why I’d prefer older, experienced players like Jerian Grant and Montrezl Harrell to Tyus Jones and Kevon Looney.

They might not have the potential upside of some of the other players available but very rarely does an eventual franchise cornerstone come that late in the first round. The Mavericks can’t be in the business of developing a 19-year old that could turn into something special a few years down the line, at least right now.

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Plus, it’s not like the Mavericks have the most decorated track record when it comes to grooming first round picks since trading for Nowitzki on draft night in 1998.

Dallas has been one of the more successful franchises in the new millennium, missing the postseason only once in the last 15 years and winning at least 50 games in 11 straight seasons. It’s tough to land difference makers when you’re drafting in the 20’s year in and year out. But that’s not to say the Mavericks haven’t missed the boat on more than a few occasions, and other teams around the league have done quite well for themselves in the same position.

The Chicago Bulls drafted Jimmy Butler with the 30th pick in 2011 and Taj Gibson with the 26th pick in 2009. Dallas drafted Byron Mullens ahead of Gibson (and DeMarre Carroll), and Jordan Hamilton over Butler. Even Tony Snell, drafted 20th by the Bulls in 2013, has shown the potential to carve out a 10-year career in the league.

Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but Josh Howard (#29 in 2003) was the last player drafted by the Mavericks to make a real, lengthy impact for the franchise. Kelly Olynyk, Dallas’ last lottery pick, was a good selection in 2013 but he ended up turning into Shane Larkin by way of several trades. Larkin is still waiting to discover his fate with the Knicks, who hold a team option, while Olynyk has been a solid contributor for the surprising Celtics.

Rick Carlisle has a reputation as a coach who prefers playing veterans to players just getting their feet wet, but if a rookie can produce Carlisle will give them a chance. Dwight Powell is proof of that.

That’s why it’s so imperative that the Mavericks steer clear of a project and take a player more likely to be ready for the transition to the pro level.

**Check out our NBA Draft Profiles on potential targets for the Mavericks**

Tyus Jones – Duke, FR.

Rashad Vaughn – UNLV, FR.

Kevon Looney – UCLA, FR. 

Montrezl Harrell – Louisville, JR. 

Robert Upshaw – Washington, SO.

Sam Dekker – Wisconsin, JR. 

R.J. Hunter – Georgia State, JR.

Jerian Grant – Notre Dame, SR.

Cameron Payne – Murray State, SO. 

Next: 5 Things to Know About LaMarcus Aldridge

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