The Dallas Mavericks thought they would owe their 2023 first-round draft pick to the New York Knicks as completion of the original Kristaps Porzingis trade. It has a top ten protection on it, but Dallas believed there was zero chance they would be in the lottery with Luka Doncic leading their charge. He was leading the league in scoring for much of the season and putting up historic numbers, but the wins have not followed.
After a soul-crushing loss to the undermanned and lottery-bound Charlotte Hornets, the Mavs are 36-38 with eight games remaining in the regular season. They sit 11th in the Western Conference and outside the Play-In Tournament on the morning of March 25. Dallas has the 11th-worst record in the NBA, and they would be in the lottery if the season ended today.
Should the Mavs tank their remaining games and try to keep their first-round pick? Here are the pros and cons of each before diving into what Dallas should do.
Pros of the Dallas Mavericks tanking to keep their 1st round pick
The Mavs must add talent to their roster this offseason. A significant piece of their struggles is a lack of skill and size, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Dallas is undersized and lacks any semblance of rim protection. It often looks like the All-Star game when the Mavericks are playing as the opposition freely gets to the rim for easy buckets.
Beyond that, the Mavericks need wing help. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving pair to make a dynamic offensive backcourt, but both are subpar defenders that are prone to defensive lapses. Dallas desperately needs a perimeter stopper that can guard at the point of attack.
General manager Nico Harrison has been in charge of two drafts, but he has just one draft choice in his ledger. Last year, the Mavericks traded their 26th overall pick in the first round for Christian Wood but jumped back into the second round to snag Jaden Hardy. The 20-year-old rookie has already outperformed his draft position and is looking like one of the steals of the 2022 draft. Having a top-ten pick could be just what Dallas needs to make a significant improvement next season.
The chances of the Mavs going from the Play-In Tournament to making a deep playoff run is unlikely at best. No team has ever won a playoff series after advancing through the Play-In. This will only be the fourth season of the tournament, but it still seems unlikely.
It is not all positive for tanking, though. The Dallas Mavericks should strongly consider the long-term impacts of a move like that.