With only one selection in the second round, the Dallas Mavericks could look to buy or trade for another pick. If they are able to acquire one in the first round of the NBA draft, who should they target?
With Phoenix, Philadelphia and Boston slated to pick three times in the first round, the Mavericks might be able to acquire one via trade. In the current cap environment where first rounders are pretty valuable, anything beyond a pick in the 20s is hard to imagine. But in case the Mavs luck out and are able to get a pick in the latter half of the first round, who should they target?
Here are four players that Dallas should consider if they suddenly find themselves with a first rounder:
Demetrius Jackson: The 6-foot-1 point guard out of Notre Dame is projected anywhere between the middle of the first and the beginning of the second round. While he is somewhat undersized for his position, Jackson makes up for that with his athletic ability. He is a good on ball defender and with a 6-foot-6 wingspan and 194-pounds on his frame should be able to defend the point guard position well enough given an adjustment period to the NBA.
But it is offense where Jackson will make his money in the league. The 21-year-old is a prototypical and unselfish leader with a pass-first mentality. He can involve his teammates while rarely turning the ball over. He possesses great speed in the open court and is also quick off the dribble. Jackson can score by himself as he gets to the rim well and can finish once there.
Question marks surround his outside shot, but Jackson is a decent enough shooter and should improve over time. If not for his age (he turns 22 in September) Jackson would probably be higher on the boards. Should the Mavs trade into the first round they should seriously consider him.
Chinanu Onuaku: Shooting free-throws underhanded will get you attention and Onuaku certainly got that when he attempted it during the draft combine. Despite his very raw offensive skills, the 6-foot-10 Onuaku projects to be a serviceable NBA player, mostly due to his elite defensive potential.
With his 7-foot-3 wingspan the 19-year-old proved to be a good rebounder (8.5 per game in 24 minutes) and shot-blocker (2.0) while playing in Louisville. At 245-pounds and blessed with plenty of strength, Onuaku already possesses the looks of an NBA center. While not elite athletically, he has shown the ability to get up and down the floor.
Offensively, it will be a while before Onuaku will be able to contribute, but defensively he could be a factor for the Mavericks right away. While he is projected between the late first and the early second round, on potential alone Onuaku should be a first rounder.
Taurean Prince: Prince will turn 22 before the start of the next NBA season, but for the Mavericks advanced college players have always held an appeal. Prince projects to be a 3-and-D player in the league and the Texas-native could team up nicely with Justin Anderson in the future.
At 6-foot-8 and with 7-feet wingspan Prince certainly has the length to guard small and power forwards in the NBA. While he already is a versatile defender, the forward out of Baylor needs to add strength to his 220-pound frame.
Offensively Prince won’t be a first option, but he can knock down outside shots, as he shot 36-percent from beyond the arc last season, and finish at the rim. Production-wise Prince did not have the senior season many scouts had hoped for, but the physical tools for the 21-year old from San Antonio are all there.
Denzel Valentine: While guys like Prince tantalize with physical tools, Valentine impressed scouts with his ability to play basketball. The Michigan State senior averaged more than seven assists and seven rebounds a game and projects to be able to play both forward positions.
While he doesn’t possess the elite athletic ability that scouts typically look for, Valentine brings plenty of other skills to the table. As his numbers indicate, Valentine is a really good passer with impressive handles for his size (6-foot-6), but he also really knows how to score and shot an impressive 44-percent on 7.5 attempts from beyond the arc last season.
The Spartan forward also possesses a high basketball IQ and a good wingspan at 6-foot-11, which should help him defend in the NBA. The versatile Valentine could be selected in the lottery, but will probably fall into the 20s because his athletic limitations scare some teams.