The Mavericks have the highest pick that they have had in years with this year’s #9 pick. The last time the Mavericks had the #9 pick was in 1998 and they ended up with a German big man named Nowitzki and that ended up pretty well.
This year many experts have predicated the Mavs will take either a young point guard for to build around or a big man to replace Dirk. I am going to tell you about some of the top players that the Mavericks should look at.
Dennis Smith Jr. was arguably the most athletic guard in the country this past season. Smith played for a struggling NC State team that finished 15-17 and missed the tournament as this year’s squad lacked talent around Smith. Still the former 5-star recruit managed to put up staggering numbers. He averaged 18.1 PPG, 6.2 APG, and nearly two steals a game. There is a fair amount of concern with Smith Jr.’s ACL that he tore during his senior year of high school, but with Smith being two years removed from it and at such a young age I think this concern is unwarranted. The former Wolf pack star could be a great fit in the Mavs young rotation with Yogi, Barnes, and Noel.
Pro Comparison: Damian Lillard
Lauri Markkanen is a player that everyone has compared to Dirk simply because they are both big foreign big men who can shoot. Even though Dirk was much more athletic going into his rookie year and Markkanen is better known because he spent a year at a big time college program, Arizona. Markkanen showed his magnificent shooting and scoring ability during his one year there. He scored around 16 PPG while shooting 42% from three. However the Finnish 7-footer struggled a lot on defense as he only recorded 19 blocks and 15 steals the whole season. If Markkanen can put on muscle and toughen up on defense, he really could become a Dirk-like player, but I do not seem him developing into that type of talent. It would be extremely helpful for him to learn behind Dirk for a year before being put into the starting lineup.
Pro Comparison: Ryan Anderson
Frank Ntilikina is another option at point guard that the Mavericks should consider. Ntilikina did not receive many minutes this past year but showed that he has a ton of potential as a future NBA point guard. “French Frank” has a big 6-foot-5 frame to go a long with an incredible 7-foot-1 wingspan. He has potential to be an elite perimeter defender and a great distributer. I believe Ntilikina will be a solid player in this league and will give opposing coaches headaches trying to stop him on defense.
Pro Comparison: Rajon Rondo
A few other players I believe the Mavericks should consider include Malik Monk (SG-Kentucky), Jonathan Isaac (F-Florida State), and Jarrett Allen (C-Texas).
I think there is a good chance that all three of these players could develop into solid players in this league, but given the fact of how point guard driven the Western conference is, I think Dennis Smith Jr. or Frank Ntilikina is the player the Mavericks should target.
It will be interesting to see how much playing time the rookie the Mavericks draft will get as Head Coach Rick Carlisle has been extremely reluctant to play rookies in the past although he hasn’t had any rookies this talented. Go Mavs and let me know what y’all think MFFL’s!