Dallas Mavericks to Embrace Youth Movement Down Stretch

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 27: Maximilian Kleber
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 27: Maximilian Kleber /

The Dallas Mavericks will never “tank”, but embracing the youth movement seems to be the plan over the home stretch.

No need to bring up the word “tanking” around Mavericks General Manager, Donnie Nelson.

“No such word in our vocabulary,” Nelson said at his press conference after the trade deadline.

Two days after the trade deadline, the Dallas Mavericks are 17-38 with the second best odds to land the top overall pick in the draft. With the Mavericks grabbing Dennis Smith Jr. last year at pick nine, the 2018 NBA Draft will allow the Mavericks to get another young building block for the future.

The question is, how high will they be drafting on draft night?

With the bottom eight teams in the league all within two wins of each other, the “tanking” battle to the bottom of the standings will be something to watch as the season unfolds. The Mavericks won’t purposely lose games, but instead, look to use the last two months of the season to see what they have in some of their young pieces.

"“I think we need to see what our young guys have to offer us at this point,” Nelson said. “It is an opportunity for guys like Doug to come in and show us.”"

The Mavericks obtained Doug McDermott and a second round pick in exchange for Devin Harris at the trade deadline. This was a move that allowed the Mavericks to move an expiring veteran in exchange for a 26-year-old wing player in McDermott and another pick in this upcoming draft.

With McDermott hitting restricted free agency this coming summer, this will be a tryout period for him in Dallas to see if they want to pay for him to come back next year on a new deal.

For years, fans in Dallas and quite frankly, the whole organization, has been riding on the shoulders of Dirk Nowitzki, but Nelson admits that preparing for life after Dirk is something they have to keep at the forefront of their minds.

"“Knock on wood, Dirk gives us another year, but he’s going to be the kind of guy that we are going to wake up one day and that’s going to be that,” Nelson said. “He is just very selfless guy. We have to be prepared for that inevitability.”"

Over the past couple of years, the Mavericks have done exactly that.

Not only do they have Dennis Smith Jr., but they have found other young gems in the undrafted pool like Yogi Ferrell, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Maxi Kleber. All names who should be in Dallas over the next couple of years.

Another one to add to the list is two-way player, Johnathan Motley.

Once projected as a first round pick, Motley went undrafted on draft night due to an injury in college, but that didn’t keep the Mavericks away. They signed the big man to a two-way contract where he has recently been called up and has been spending time with the team.

Even though he hasn’t seen much playing time of late, things could be changing for the 22-year-old very soon.

More from The Smoking Cuban

“I think so. I think that is certainly in the cards,” Nelson said when I asked him about Motley playing more down the stretch.

“I think playing a lot of the young guys in general is important. You have to see what they have to offer come summer time. That is a part of this, we need to figure out what we have there,” Nelson said.

It’s easy to say they will commit to the youth movement, but actually doing it will be hard for the franchise.

Key veterans such as Nowitzki, J.J. Barea, Wesley Matthews and even 31-year-old Salah Mejri are all past their “youthful” years and key rotation pieces. After that, the roster is full of young pieces that Dallas should start to hand more minutes to.

Every other player on the roster is in between the age of 20-26 years old with the exception of Josh McRoberts. I would also keep an eye on McRoberts being bought out to clear out another roster spot. This would allow Dallas to bring in another young flyer to test out over the last few months.

Dallas has the young bodies and intends to embrace the youth movement over the home stretch of the season. So what will that really look like in the rotation?

I would expect Nowitzki, Barea and Matthews’ minutes to all go down just a tad over the next few months. Honestly, you could see Mejri’s role evaporate all together as the Mavs look to find room for Motley, Kleber, and gulp, wait for it, Nerlens Noel.

Next: Everything Leads to the Summer of 2018 For Mavericks

Wins will always be the goal, but finding out what they have in their young pieces is crucial and that might come with a handful of losses.