Dallas Mavericks: Free Agency Plans Should Not Dictate Draft Plans
By Isaac Harris
The order of events this summer should determine the priorities for the Dallas Mavericks. Free agent plans should be based off the draft.
The order of events this spring and summer will determine a lot for the future of the Dallas Mavericks.
First, on April 13th, the NBA held their lottery tiebreakers where the Dallas Mavericks were tied with the Atlanta Hawks for the third worst record in the league. Dallas won the tiebreaker and now has the third best odds at landing the first overall pick in the draft.
The next key date is May 15th when the NBA hosts it’s annual NBA Draft Lottery. On that night, the NBA will determine the official order of the NBA Draft in June.
After that, it is the NBA Draft on June 21, 2018 where the Mavericks will have a pick in the top six in the first round and two second round picks.
Just a few weeks after that, free agency starts where the Mavericks will be one of the only teams with a large amount of cap space.
The key thing is keeping the priorities in line with the timeline and not the other way around.
For years, chasing the big fish in free agency was the main agenda heading into the summer, but for a second consecutive summer, that might not be the case. Donnie Nelson even said at his exit interview that they would be going after young players with upside.
The plan is a joy to hear, but hopefully free agency remains priority number two, instead of one.
Basically, the direction they go in the draft shouldn’t be impacted at all by their plans in free agency.
Currently, the Mavericks have the third best lottery odds heading into May 15th behind the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies. If Dallas doesn’t jump into the top two on lottery night, they are most likely looking at a pick in the 3-5 range in the first round.
Assuming that Luka Doncic and DeAndre Ayton are gone, that leaves a group of about five players that will go in that range on draft night.
Michael Porter Jr., Marvin Bagley III, Mohamed Bamba, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Mikal Bridges will all be considered.
Then look at some young, upside worthy players in free agency. Aaron Gordon, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle are examples of restricted free agents that fit the bill.
But on paper, some of those top prospects wouldn’t really fit with some of those top, young restricted free agents as they play a similar position.
For instance, drafting Michael Porter Jr. and signing Jabari Parker would give you two players with redundant skill sets. The same type of situation would be drafting someone like Marvin Bagley III and then giving Julius Randle a big contract.
These probably won’t be the best of pairings, but it shouldn’t impact who they draft on draft night.
For the Mavericks, you go with the best player on your big board with free agency not even on your mind.
Questions like, how would “X” free agent fit with “X” draft pick shouldn’t take place on draft night. Or should we draft a center that fits next to “X” free agent more?
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I’m sure we have all seen fans share their opinions about their dream pairings in the offseason.
“Mo Bamba would fit perfectly with Jabari Parker.”
“We should draft Jackson Jr. because he would fit perfectly with a Julius Randle type.”
“If we draft a four, there are no centers to target in free agency?”
This shouldn’t be the case.
If Dallas has Marvin Bagley III ranked the highest on their board, but they want to chase Julius Randle in the offseason also, they should just take Bagley III and be done with it.
If they have Michael Porter Jr. near the top of their board, but think they will have a shot at Jabari Parker, they should just take Porter Jr.
As Dallas knows best, you never know what can happen in free agency and passing up on a prospect just because of a similar skill set in a potential free agent target could come back to bite them in the future.
This draft pick will help shape the next decade for the Mavericks. They need to hit a home run. They need the third piece to the puzzle.
But the most important thing heading into the summer is remembering the order of events. The NBA Draft is first, THEN free agency.
Next: NBA Lottery Mock Draft 2.0
Shape your free agent plans around the draft pick, not the other way around.