3. Jimmy Butler 2011 NBA Draft (30th overall)
Mavericks selection: Jordan Hamilton (26th overall, traded to Nuggets)
The Mavs were fresh off winning the championship, so they deserve a bit of a pass here. Dallas did not prioritize the draft during Dirk Nowitzki’s prime as they used their first-rounders to upgrade their current roster. Owner Mark Cuban decided to retool their aging roster ahead of the 2011 lockout and one of his first moves was trading this pick for Rudy Fernandez and Petteri Koponen.
Koponen, a first-round pick in 2007, never played in the NBA, and Fernandez never played a game for the Mavericks. After the lockout, he and Corey Brewer were traded to Denver for a second-round pick. Yes, Dallas dumped him and a player making $3 million for what turned into the 45th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft just months after dealing the 26th pick to get Fernandez. It was a disastrous trade made worse by the player still on the board.
Dallas Mavericks pass on Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Buckets went 30th overall. The 6’7 wing took a few years to develop, but Dallas did not get anything out of the trade until 2016, when Butler was already a two-time All-Star. The now six-time All-Star and five-time All-Defensive teamer is one of the best wings in the league. Butler even led the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals inside the bubble in 2020.
How different would things have been during Dirk Nowitzki’s twilight years if the Dallas Mavericks had drafted Jimmy Butler in 2011? It will always be a what-if to consider.