Despite currently being the 6th worst team in the NBA, as a Mavericks fan I am feeling pretty lucky these days. We have two elite players on our roster that are under the age of 23 in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, and a ton of upcoming cap space to build around them. From where we were a few years ago to where we are now has me feeling great about the future of the franchise for the next 5+ years.
With this momentum of good fortune I now have my sights set on having the ping-pong balls fall our way so we can keep out top-5 protected 2019 draft pick. This is just another opportunity to add great young talent to try to build the next Mavericks Championship team. Adding a player like Zion Williamson, Jarrett Culver, Ja Morant, or RJ Barrett would have the Mavs threatening to be Championship contenders for years.
However, if history is any indicator, that lucky feeling is about to fade. The Dallas Mavericks have literally NEVER moved up in the Draft Lottery in the 13 times they have been in the Lottery since it was established in 1985. 8 times they have stayed right where they were slotted based on the standings and 5 times they actually dropped to worse position.
|Year||Pick||Record||Odds of #1||Pre-Lottery Position||Pick Change|
Just to torture ourselves, let’s take a look at what might have been if the Mavericks never dropped in the lottery and just picked based on their record and overall standing each year.
Although the Mavericks were a talented team with Mark Aguirre, Rolando Blackman, and Derek Harper leading them to a record of 44-38 and a 4 seed in the Western Conference, they were able to have the 3rd best chances of the top pick in 1986 because they owned the Cleveland Cavaliers pick. However, they dropped 4 spots in the Lottery and wound up with the 7th overall pick.
When you look at the draft results from 1986, the fact that the Mavs dropped 4 spots did not really end up hurting them, they certainly would not have been better off with Chris Washburn, who was taken at #3, than Roy Tarpley, a very good NBA Center.
Tarpley hit his peak with the Mavericks in the 1989-1990 season when he averaged 16.8 points, 13.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks over 45 games until he was suspended by the NBA for off-court issues. Repeated arrests and substance abuse violations caused Tarpley’s bright future with the Mavericks to dim quite quickly. Unfortunately Tarpley’s fate was similar to many great players from his era, most notably the tragic story of Len Bias who went #2 overall in the same draft.
|3||GSW||Chris Washburn||NC Stat||2||72||3.1||2.4||0.3|
Some notable players taken later in the draft: Arvydas Sabonis (24), Mark Price (25 by the Mavs, traded on draft day for future 2nd round pick), Dennis Rodman (27), and Drazen Petrovic (60).
The Mavericks were the 3rd worst team in the NBA in 1992 with a record of 22-60 but wound up with the 4th overall pick after the Lottery.
Orlando was the lucky team that won the Shaq Lottery, followed by several other very good players. It would have been great to move up to #1, but dropping to #4 was not all bad. Jim Jackson had some great years with the Mavericks, notably the 1994-1995 season when he averaged 25.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists running alongside Jason Kidd and Jamal Mashburn.
|4||DAL||Jim Jackson||Ohio State||14||885||14.3||4.7||3.2|
|5||DEN||LaPhonso Ellis||Notre Dame||11||624||11.9||6.5||1.6|
Players that went later in the 1992 draft: Robert Horry (11), Latrell Sprewell (25).
Despite having an exciting young scorer in Jim Jackson, the Mavericks still went 11-71 in 1993, the worst record in the NBA. Instead of the Mavericks getting the #1 pick in 1993 they dropped 3 spots in the Lottery and wound up with the 4th overall pick. This time it really hurt…
The Mavericks wound up with a future All-Star and All-NBA player in Jamal Mashburn, but they missed out on Rookie-of-the-Year and 5x All-Star, Chris Webber, by dropping out of their #1 spot. I guess things could have been worse, you could have drafted Shawn Bradley #2 overall like the 76’ers did, but Chris Webber would have been a much better fit alongside Jim Jackson than Jamal Mashburn turned out to be, I think we can all agree on that.
If the future then played out the same and the Mavs acquired Jason Kidd the next year, Webber and Kidd would have been a fastbreak nightmare for opposing defenses! Without a logjam of wanna be ball handlers that the Triple J’s ended up being, a trio of Webber/Kidd/Jackson would have been a much better fit. They would have had the big man, the point guard, and the lights out scorer, all of which were at the start of their careers.
If there is one lottery that very much changed the history of the Dallas Mavericks franchise, it could have been this one.
Players that went later in the 1993 draft: Vin Baker (8), Allan Houston (11), Sam Cassell (24), Nick Van Exel (37), Byron Russell (45),
After dropping a spot two years ago and missing out on Webber the year (before despite having the best odds), the Mavericks were again back in the Lottery in 1994 with the best odds of the #1 pick thanks to their 13-69 record. This time they dropped just one spot and selected Jason Kidd.
Just by being in the top 3 of this draft you were a winner. Glenn Robinson, Jason Kidd, and Grant Hill all had excellent NBA careers. You won’t hear me complaining about falling in the Lottery if you end up with Jason Kidd, but still the facts remain, the Mavs dropped.
Kidd’s first run with the Mavericks wouldn’t last too long, just two and a half seasons later he was traded to the Suns for Michael Finley, Sam Cassell, and A.C. Green. But all was forgiven in when Kidd returned to Dallas to join Dirk Nowtizki, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, and Company in winning the only NBA Championship in Dallas Mavericks history.
Players that went later in the 1994 draft: Eddie Jones (10), Jalen Rose (13).
Fun Fact: Charlie Ward was drafted 24th in the 1994 draft fresh off his Heisman season as quarterback of the National Champion Florida State Seminoles and went on to play 11 NBA seasons.
History of the Mavericks not only failing to move up in the lottery but actually losing ground by the fate of luck can be seen as recent as this past 2018 NBA Draft. Although they ended up with the best player in the draft, Slovenian Sensation, Luka Dončić, it did come at a price.
Coming into the 2018 lottery the Mavericks had the third best odds of landing the #1 overall pick at 13.8% and a 42.6% chance of being in the top 3. Instead it was the Hawks (42.6% chance of top 3) and the Sacramento Kings (18.3% chance of top 3) who moved up in the lottery and bumped the Dallas Mavericks to the 5th overall pick. If the Mavs had just been lucky enough to keep their standings and stay at #3 they would not have had to give up their 2019 first round pick (top-5 protected) in order to move up to get Luka. We would have had Luka and been able to feel good about whatever draft position we wind up with this season.
Now, the Mavericks must land in the top 5 after the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery on May 14th in order to keep their pick. Anything outside of the top 5 will granted to Atlanta to complete the trade. If the Mavericks do end up in the top 5, the pick would then be top-5 protected in 2020, top-three protected in 2021 and 2022, and unprotected beyond that. Keeping their pick this year and delaying it to a time where it appears they will be much lower in the draft order would be a huge win for the Mavericks future.
The Mavericks, with 9 games left in 2018-2019 season, currently have the 6th best odds of landing the #1 pick in the upcoming draft. They have an 9% chance at #1 and a 37.2% chance of being in the top 4. So right now the Mavs have a 37% chance of keeping their pick and a 63% of having to give that pick to Atlanta.
History tells me not to be optimistic but I just can’t help it.