The Dallas Mavericks hold the 26th pick in the 2022 NBA draft, and even though this team is playing in the conference finals right now, there is still a glaring hole that Nico Harrison needs to fill this summer. They lack rim protection and size, and the draft is potentially a way the Mavs can address that.
At pick 26, your options are always somewhat limited and finding a day one contributor that late in the draft is asking a lot.
The Mavs are in a position where they need some size and shot-blocking, and the perfect guy for that is sophomore center Walker Kessler out of Auburn. Kessler projects a late first round pick, so there's a good chance he is still on the board when the Mavs make their pick
Why Walker Kessler is the perfect pick for the Dallas Mavericks in the 2022 NBA Draft
Kessler is 7'1 and 245 pounds with an incredible 7'5 wingspan. This elite length Kessler possess helped him average 4.6 blocks per game, good enough for second in the nation. Kessler's body type allows him to disrupt shots in the paint without fouling, and because of this, his defensive ability will translate to the next level.
Kessler also moves exceptionally well for his size and does an excellent job guarding the pick and roll. Fans might think a guy his size getting the number of blocks he gets is foul prone, but that's not the case for Kessler. He's super disciplined and is fantastic at using his length to go straight up.
The Mavericks rank 28th in blocked shots per game, and as good as the team's defense is overall, they struggle against bigs. Dallas ranks 14th in opponent paint points a game without an actual center that can guard big men and consistently protect the rim.
Kessler is probably the best rim protector in this draft, and he will be a defensive force at some point in his career. If the Mavs can get an elite rim protector, it could catapult them from a good defense to an elite defense.
Kessler's most significant question mark is his ability on the offensive end. Kessler isn't a natural post-up guy, and he often struggles passing out of double teams.
His 3-point shot isn't there yet, as he took 1.5 per game but shot only 20.0 percent at Auburn, but that's something he's working towards adding to his arsenal. Mechanically his shot needs work, but a good sign is that Kessler is willing to learn and wasn't afraid to take them in his time at Auburn.
The good news for Kessler is that Dallas doesn't need much offensive help from him. Sure, a consistent 3-point shot would be great, but the Mavs have shooting. Their problems lie at the center position as they've consistently had trouble dealing with bigs all year. Kessler also is a fantastic roller, and naturally, at 7'1, he's an excellent lob threat for Luka.
There is a good chance Kessler is still on the board when the Dallas Mavericks pick, and he is the perfect pick for the team. The Mavs haven't had a real defensive presence at the five since Tyson Chandler, and Walker Kessler could grow into a defensive anchor. Unless someone clearly better falls into the Mavericks' lap, Kessler should be a no-brainer for the Mavs on draft night.