Dallas Mavericks: Front Court, Not Back Court, Will Be Draft Focus
The Dallas Mavericks will be looking at a late lottery to mid-first round draft pick in the 2017 NBA Draft where many have them targeting a point guard, but is that the case?
After a rough start to the season, the Dallas Mavericks were in the conversation for a top pick in the draft. Now, after a second half push for the playoffs, the Mavericks are looking like a late lottery team drafting around the 9-12 spot.
The sense all along would be that point guard would be the natural focus on draft night, but could the front court actually be a focus?
I believe this will be the case, but not by the Mavs choice this summer.
Chad Ford’s latest Tank Rank came out, where based off current records, the Mavericks have the 10th worst record in the league.
*Let’s assume the NBA Draft Lottery plays out like the records are at the moment.
1.) Brooklyn (to Boston)– With the Nets being the worst team in the NBA, this will give the Boston Celtics a very high shot at either Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz.
2.) Los Angeles– If the Lakers land a top two pick, they will probably go with either of the two projected superstars in Ball or Fultz. If not, Jackson or Tatum could be an option. Let’s assume it’s either Ball or Fultz.
3.) Phoenix– At the moment, the Suns hold the third worst record with Philadelphia on their heels. They have a plethora of guards, so going with either Jackson or Tatum makes too much sense here.
4.) Philadelphia– They need a guard and everyone knows it. Malik Monk, Dennis Smith Jr. or even De’Aaron Fox could be options here.
5.) Orlando– Looking at their roster moving forward, Aaron Gordon, Bismack Biyombo, and Nikola Vucevic will all be on the roster next season barring a trade. Many assume they will turn the page on Elfrid Payton by drafting one of Smith, Monk, or Fox.
6.) New York– If the Knicks land a pick this high, expect them to go with a guard moving forward. Anthony, Porzingis, $72 million Noah, and Hernangomez hold down the front court. Derrick Rose will be unrestricted. Landing either Smith, Monk, or Fox would be ideal for New York.
7.) Sacramento– The Kings are in a similar boat as the Knicks in they need a point guard. They have rising youngsters in Cauley-Stein and Labissiere up front with Buddy Hield in the back court.
8.) New Orleans (to Sacramento)– See above
9.) Charlotte – The Hornets are neck-and-neck with the Mavs for the 9th worst record in the league. They could go anywhere with their pick. They are paying decent money to front court players Miles Plumlee, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky.
So why is the front court going to be a focus instead of the back court? Simply because the top guard prospects probably won’t be there for the Mavericks’ draft pick.
Assuming Fultz and Ball go in the first two picks, that leaves four more guards in Monk, Smith, Fox and Ntilikina to last seven or eight picks for Dallas. Of those teams drafting 3-9 in front of Dallas, I would say every one of those teams will be targeting a guard with their pick.
Phoenix is the only exception, but if they land in the top five, drafting Jackson or Tatum will be their target most likely.
Let’s say hypothetically, the following players are drafted before pick 10 based off the needs above.
Ball, Fultz, Tatum, Monk, Jackson, Smith, Fox, Isaac, and Ntilikina.
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Now Dallas is faced with a dilemma. All of the top back court prospects are off the board, thus turning the focus and attention to the front court. But this isn’t the end of the world for Dallas though, there are some top-tier draft talents in the front court.
The sharpshooting big man out of Arizona, Lauri Markkanen, is currently 7th on Ford’s latest big board. The uber athletic Miles Bridges, out of Michigan State, is currently 10th on the same big board. Then you have a high potential guy like Harry Giles or an up-and-comer in Justin Patton.
The next guards on any big boards after Ntilikina are Terrance Ferguson and Luke Kennard, two players worthy of first round picks, but not top 10 worthy picks.
Also, drafting a front court player isn’t the worst thing either. Nerlens Noel is entering restricted free agency, but is expected to be back. Dirk Nowitzki is set to play his last season next year and Salah Mejri has a non-guaranteed 2017-18 season. After that, you have Dwight Powell and second round project, A.J. Hammons.
Next: Dallas Mavericks 2017 NBA Draft Big Board 3.0
Drafting a point guard would be ideal, but if the Mavericks continue pushing for the playoffs, drafting a front court player with the first round pick looks like the best option.