Dallas Mavericks: Revisiting the 1999 NBA Draft
With the NBA Draft becoming a hot topic currently, we revisit each draft for the Dallas Mavericks starting in the year 1999.
In light of the recent NBA draft lottery and upcoming 2016 NBA Draft, us here at The Smoking Cuban wanted to look back at the Dallas Mavericks’ draft history and determine essentially whether the Mavs did the right thing or the wrong thing during the drafting process of that year.
The Dallas Mavericks are an expansion team that first took the court in the year 1980. Although there were some great seasons early on for the franchise (including a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 1987-88), the squad did not become a true powerhouse until Dirk Nowitzki came along.
For that reason, along with wanting to avoid the craziness of the expansion drafts and seven-round drafts that took place from 1980-1987, we will be starting with the year after we traded Robert ‘Tractor’ Traylor to Milwaukee for the rights to a 7’0” skinny German kid by the name of Dirk Nowitzki.
Notable Players Drafted in 1999
The 1999 draft had a large talent pool with many players who made a big difference in the game. Most of these players should be familiar names including a few who made it through the Mavericks’ organization over the course of their careers:
Elton Brand – Rd. 1 Pk. 1 (CHI)
Baron Davis – Rd. 1 Pk. 3 (CHA)
Lamar Odom – Rd. Pk. 4 (LAC)
Richard Hamilton – Rd. 1 Pk. 7 (WSH)
Andre Miller – Rd. 1 Pk. 8 (CLE)
Shawn Marion – Rd. 1 Pk. 9 (PHX)
Jason Terry – Rd. 1 Pk. 10 (ATL)
Manu Ginobili – Rd. 2 Pk. 57 (SAS)
State of the Mavs
At this time, the Mavericks were confident that they had put together a nice group of players for them to build off of. Although they had done very poorly in the 1998-99 shortened season, Dallas had players like Dirk, Steve Nash, and Michael Finley to build around.
Despite the trust and excitement from Don Nelson and the rest of the organization, a 19-31 finish in the season still did not seem very promising for the fans. That along with the draft class featuring many future All-Stars and even a few Hall of Famers made it an important year for a Dallas team seeking for a chance to make the jump from bottom-feeders to playoff contenders.
Don Nelson had made the decision before the season even started that the Mavericks were not going to be relying on a draft piece to strengthen the team further. With another losing season in the books, The Mavs fans were going to need some faith.
What the Mavs Did
Looking back on this draft now, and even at the time, it is clear that Dallas made the right move. The Mavericks did not have a first round selection in the draft, electing to trade it (along with a few other players) the year previously to get Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns.
Dallas landed a young, promising point guard at a fairly steep price, but Nelson knew that Dirk was going to be the star at that time and he elected to build around him as opposed to seeking for another star in the draft.
The Mavericks did end up having two 2nd round selections which they used on Wang Zhizhi, who played just one season with the Mavericks, and Gordon Giricek, a player we then traded to the Spurs for the rights to Leon Smith who never played an NBA game.
This proved to be an effective strategy as the Mavs spent the next season going 40-42 and missing the playoffs by 4 games. Although the draft may not have been a total success, it definitely paved the way for future seasons.
What the Mavs Should’ve Done
Having the opportunity to look back now, it is easy to see the Mavericks made the right decisions for the ’99 draft. Trading away a few role players and the 9th overall pick (used to select Shawn Marion) for Steve Nash was an easy choice for Dallas and for good reason.
Although we didn’t get the opportunity to see Nash play his best years in a Mavericks uniform, it is still easy to see that he made a tremendous impact on both the organization and the play of Dirk Nowitzki. With a player like Nash, one of the best passers in the history of the game, Dirk got the chance to operate the way he likes to operate which made him develop and grow into the incredible player that he is. Nash is a big cause for that.
After the Nash trade, we made two selections in the 2nd round, neither of which panned out as very usable players. However, looking at the remaining players after each of our selections, only one player truthfully has made a big enough impact on the game to regret not taking.
Next: Dallas Mavericks Flashback: WCF Game 1
The Dallas Mavericks were fortunate enough to rock the 1999 NBA draft and form a team that could put fans in the stands for years to come. Stay tuned in with The Smoking Cuban to see how all the drafts of this century have panned out for the Dallas Mavericks. (All stats per basketball-reference.com and NBA.com)