With the Dallas Mavericks sitting at the ninth spot in the draft, how likely is it De’Aaron Fox ends up in Dallas?
De’Aaron Fox is hands down one of the most beguiling draft prospects this year.
Aside from his undeniable on-court talents, Fox has a strong and infectious competitive nature. His combination of skill and upside have made him a favorite amongst NBA and Mavericks fans alike.
But alas, his appeal is also clear to every point guard needy team in the lottery, of which there are many. While it’s certainly not impossible that he falls to #9, it would take very specific things to happen. In this article, we’ll look at how De’Aaron Fox could end up in a Dallas uniform by making a “De’Aaron Fox to the Mavs” mock draft.
Boston: Pick #1
Okay, this one’s a gimme. The Celtics are GOING to draft Markelle Fultz, they’d be insane not to. Shouldn’t be any surprises here.
Los Angeles: Pick #2
Let’s face it, the Lakers are Lonzo Ball’s birthright. Although I don’t envy Luke Walton having to deal with Lavar for the foreseeable future.
Philadelphia: Pick #3
This one could go either way. The Sixers are seemingly dead-set on using Ben Simmons as their primary ball-handler, but they might want some insurance in case that role doesn’t work or he has more injury woes.
Fox might be not be a great fit anyway since he can’t reliably space the floor and his passing skills won’t be as useful without the ball. Philly might take him so they can find a favorable trade later on, but I could also see them drafting a wing player like Jayson Tatum for keeps. Tatum was a lethal isolation threat at Duke, and showed off his polished 3-point ability. He could space the floor for guys like Simmons and Okafor to operate while holding his own on defense.
Phoenix: Pick #4
This one could also go a number of ways. They already have a starting point guard in Eric Bledsoe, but they may be inclined to trade him if they don’t see a permanent place for him on the team. Bledsoe is 27, not young but not old, and since Phoenix is obviously rebuilding, they may want to take the younger Fox to grow with their current core.
If they don’t take Fox, they’ll probably spring for a defensive-minded wing like Josh Jackson and keep Bledsoe around, at least until a trade opportunity presents itself.
Sacramento Kings: Pick #5
Now we’re getting into threatening territory. The Kings don’t currently have a young point guard for their rebuild which makes it viable for them to take Fox. But there are still a couple other options for them at the position.
Dennis Smith Jr. was among the top ranked prospects coming out of high school. But an ACL tear his senior year and his team having a lackluster season led to him falling out of the top five on most boards. Being surrounded by a sub par team at N.C. State hurt his draft stock, but Smith Jr. had an excellent season individually. His athleticism is seemingly unfazed by his ACL injury as he was one of the most flashy athletes in college basketball. He also demonstrated a steady 3-point stroke at 35.7% and ran the pick-and-roll with precision.
The Kings could see Smith Jr. as a potential superstar whose stock fell because of his team’s failings. Sacramento gets a star to usher in the rebuild post-Boogie and Fox falls further down the board.
Orlando Magic: Pick #6
A lot of mock drafts have De’Aaron Fox going to the Magic. But taking Fox would most likely be a “best player available” situation, rather than drafting for fit.
Ever since the Dwight Howard trade, the Magic have toyed with rebuilding, but never had the patience to see it through. Poor decision-making has left them an aggressively mediocre team without a true centerpiece to show for it. Lauri Markkanen, however, could change their draft fortunes and the direction of the franchise.
I know, I know, 6th is way too high for Markkanen. But him heading to Orlando actually makes sense given his fit with their offensive schemes. Markkanen has been widely regarded as the best shooter in the draft, and for good reason. The Finnish sniper splashed 42.3% of his triples as a 7-footer. That kind of range is positively Nowitzki-ian. Now that may sound like sacrilege, but Dirk had his share of doubters before he was drafted and he’s been able to have a semi-successful NBA career. Markkanen would be the ideal partner for the perimeter-challenged Aaron Gordon, as Gordon would have much more room to work inside.
Markkanen’s place on the roster may seem iffy, but it wouldn’t take much to clear it up. Nikola Vucevic has been an on-again, off-again starter for the Magic, mostly sharing his minutes with the overpaid Bismack Biyombo. Apparently, the front office isn’t too high on the 26-year-old from Montenegro as they’ve tried to move him on a number of occasions. Considering Vucevic is on a team-friendly contract and provides reliable offense, he could easily be traded for a decent return. Meanwhile, Orlando gets a center that is seven years younger and has a much higher ceiling.
While the Magic might take Fox, it is important to remember that they already have a point guard in Elfrid Payton. While Payton doesn’t have the same kind of potential as Fox, his improved play towards the end of the season might buy him a little more time to cement his place as their point guard of the future.
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Minnesota Timberwolves: Pick #7
The Timberpups are unlikely to take Fox with the 7th pick. Thanks to Ricky Rubio’s stellar play to close out the season, Minnesota will likely run it back with their pass first point guard. Expect them to take Jonathan Isaac because of his defensive upside and clear place in the starting lineup.
New York Knicks: Pick #8
It will likely come down to either De’Aaron Fox or Frank Ntilikina at number eight. Ntilikina is more of an unknown quantity than Fox is, but so was Kristaps Porzingis a couple of years ago. Ntilikina has impressive size and shooting ability, albeit in small samples. And despite an open rebellion by the Knicks players, Czar Jackson is intent on running the triangle offense full-time, a system Ntilikina could thrive in. The Knicks will go with Ntilikina, despite it being sheer nonsense the Fox was theirs for the taking.
So here is the “De’Aaron Fox to the Mavs” draft board:
1: Celtics- Markelle Fultz
2: Lakers- Lavar Ball
3: Sixers- Jayson Tatum
4: Suns- Josh Jackson
5: Kings- Dennis Smith Jr.
6: Magic- Lauri Markkanen
7: Timberwolves- Jonathan Isaac
8: Knicks- Frank Ntilikina
9: Mavericks- De’Aaron Fox
I am a huge De’Aaron Fox fan. I believe he is destined for the team; mostly because of that picture of him wearing a Dallas hat, but also because some things are just meant to be.
Fox is an incredibly hard worker who has a clear passion for the game. Even if he doesn’t develop a consistent jumpshot, his forceful drives to the rim and defensive skills say he will be a valuable contributor to any team he lands on. And with a lot of luck, that team will be the Dallas freakin’ Mavericks.
The Mavs weren’t able to luck out with the (rigged) draft lottery this year, but they may walk away the future face of the franchise in De’Aaron Fox.