Which path will the Dallas Mavericks take in the draft?

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Mark Cuban (L) attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Maverics at Staples Center on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Mark Cuban (L) attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Maverics at Staples Center on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images) /

After a trainwreck 2017-2018 season, it’s no secret how valuable this year’s draft is to the Dallas Mavericks.

The team’s fanbase is amidst uncharted territory.

During last year’s All-Star break, Mavs Owner, Mark Cuban, went on Dr. J’s Podcast and admitted “losing was the best option.” The league fined Cuban $600,000 for publicly revealing what was evident by just watching the games. Losing was the priority. In the end, the Mavs were actually being smart — they were positioning themselves for tonight.

The ping-pong balls failed to bounce the Mavericks way back in May, but hey that’s luck. Donnie Nelson and his staff have to pick up the pieces and select the best players they can in order to improve the team’s roster. The problem is, improving the Mavs personnel is no easy task.

Outside of their 20-year-old point guard Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks talent pool is dry. The face of the franchise, Dirk Nowitzki, just celebrated a birthday in which he turned 40. Harrison Barnes is who he is, which is a very adequate third to fourth option on a playoff team. Barnes is locked into max money the next two seasons if he so desires. The writing is on the wall: Dennis Smith Jr. is in dire need of at least one running-mate.

Which brings us to this point. The Mavericks are drafting in back-to-back lotteries for the first time in over twenty seasons. There is a lot riding on-the-line tonight. They must nail their first pick in the draft. Growth opportunities are there for the taking. They need to give DSJ something to work with. As we approach draft time,  let’s run through the three logical pathways the Mavs can take atop the draft.

Path 1: Stay put and pick fifth.

In this scenario the Mavericks hold their position at five and take the best available prospect that lines up with their board.

The consensus among most is that the Phoenix Suns will be selecting Arizona’s Deandre Ayton with the first pick in tonight’s draft. After Ayton, multiple reports are indicating that Marvin Bagley III is set to be the Kings’ man with the second pick.

News broke Tuesday night from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Atlanta Hawks front office has started to sharpen their intentions on drafting European teen, Luka Doncic.

If the top three goes in the order of Ayton, Bagley, & Doncic - what will Memphis do at 4?

As of Wednesday night, ESPN’s Ian Begley reported the New York Knicks are looking to move up from the 9th pick to select Mohamed Bamba. ESPN’s draft analyst, Jonathan Givony backed up that report linking the Knicks to Memphis and the 4th pick:

If Bamba goes 4, the Mavericks will most certainly decide between Jaren Jackson Jr., Michael Porter Jr., and Wendell Carter Jr.

Path 2: Trade up

This would be an aggressive step for the Mavericks to take. Our own Kohl Rast suggests here that the Mavericks should not trade up for Luka Doncic.

It’s typically not in the Mavericks DNA to make very splashy draft-day moves. If the team wants to be aggressive and move up from the fifth spot, they’ll certainly have to sacrifice available assets like a future first round pick.

Rumors have circled around the Hawks and Grizzlies potentially wanting to deal back in the draft in order to pick up additional assets. All of this remains to be seen.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony is reporting that the Mavericks are one of seven teams that have shown interest in acquiring the fourth overall pick. The Grizzlies are looking to attach Chandler Parsons’ contract as well as maintaining the ability to stay in the lottery. It seems far-fetched that the Mavericks would want to take on Parsons’ massive $49.2 million contract in order to move up one spot in the draft. If the Grizzlies are willing to sacrifice No.4 without obtaining No.5 from the Mavericks, things may get a little more appealing for the Mavericks.

Path 3: Trade Down

Do the Mavericks value a player like Wendell Carter Jr. more than they are letting on? If that’s the case, we could see the Mavericks try to pick up a future first-round pick or even a player that fits into their rebuilding timeline while moving back a couple of spots. This pathway seems to be the least likely of the three paths.

Next: Pros and Cons of each top prospect for the Mavs

The stake will be high. Emotions will be tense. Which pathway will the Mavericks take? Tune-in tonight & find out.