D-Lord's Draft Day Donuts: A Mavs Primer

It's Draft Day. Before the draft, everyone is an expert. So, while the window is open, here's our latest expert analysis of Thursday's draft. What should Mavs fans anticipate, and which players should they watch as the draft unfolds? Here's our annual primer to point the way. ... as we eyeball somebody named Nikola Mirotic. ...

DONUT 1: Where and when will the draft take place?

The NBA Draft is Thursday at Madison Square Garden in NY. It begins at 6 pm Dallas time and various cable channels will provide wall-to-wall TV coverage.

The Mavs' first-round pick should happen around 8 pm. Or so. Barring trades, their second rounder will be picked about an hour and a half later. The 75-Member Staff will be right in the middle of the action at Mavs' headquarters, digging out the details.

DONUT 2: The Mavs pick 26th in both rounds of the draft. Will there be NBA caliber players for them to select when they pick?

In theory, yes. As the draft progresses, obviously the odds get slimmer for finding a good player, much less a star. Yet each year there are some players picked in the latter part of the first round, or even in the second round, that become useful NBA players. Hopefully the Mavs can find a good one.

Fish's All-Access report here has the Mavs suggesting that they believe there is a talent bunching where they will pick, and that another project/prospect will be available.

DONUT 3: In the NFL, a first-rounder should turn out to be a starter, and hopefully a star. The Mavs have a first-rounder. Shouldn't we expect the Mavs to get at least a starter in this draft?

Unfortunately it's not the same. We can hope, but honestly it's an iffy proposition for the Mavs to find a starter while picking 26th in the first round.

Since I was a local boy raised on the Cowboys, it took me years to grasp why the NBA draft works differently than the NFL's. For those who are like me, let me help.

The reason they are so different is in the numbers.

In the NFL, there are 22 starters. As the league replenishes its ranks with its draft, in a first round of 32 players almost 70% of them can be the very best new player at their position. But in an NBA draft where there are 5 starters and a first round of 30, less than 17% of the first rounders can be the top incoming player at their position. This means that near the end of round 1 in the NBA draft, teams are left to pick between new players who on paper are no better than 5th or 6th best incoming player at their position.

Ultimately here's the bottom line: one NFL round of 32 picks allots the same level of talent as about the first 7 NBA picks in a draft. So a team picking where the Mavs are (26th) is like an NFL team with a 4th rounder and an 8th rounder. Yes they might get a useful player at that point, and maybe one who turns out to be very good, but there clearly aren't going to be any sure things.

Looking at the current Mavs roster, we see this reinforced. It's built with 3 players who were picked in the top 7 or an NFL first rounder (Kidd, Chandler, Brewer), 5 who would be comparative 2nd rounders (Dirk, Marion, Butler, JET, Peja), and 2 who would be comparative 3rd-rounders (Haywood, Stevenson).

By the time we get to where the Mavs are picking, only 3 players that are on the current Mavs roster were picked that low or lower: Mahinmi, Cardinal, and Barea. In other words, the Mavs will be doing some educated guessing on Thursday, and then hoping for the best.

DONUT 4: In some years we've seen the Mavs trade up and get a high draft pick (such as the year when they traded with Washington to get Devin Harris). Is that something to look for?

It seems that this year there are far more rumors than usual about teams being willing to trade a high pick. Just in the top 10, I've heard mentions of Minnesota (2), Sacramento (7), Charlotte (9), and there may be more.

But it hard to see how the Mavs could land such a deal. They can't trade any of the 6 free agents whose contracts are ending, and Dirk, Kidd, Marion, Haywood, and JET don't look like trade fodder for the Mavs or realistic targets for someone else. That leaves Mahinmi, Brewer, Beaubois, Jones, picks, and cash as all the possible trade pieces for Dallas to use.

Could some combination of that land a top ten 10 pick? And if it could, would the Mavs bite?

I could see the Mavs willing to put a player and their pick together, but don't see it as being enough to land a high pick. And unless it's a high pick that has some degree of "certainty" to it, I'm guessing they'd rather keep the player(s) they have.

Prediction: no Mavs draft day trade-up.

DONUT 5: The experts are saying this is a "weak" draft. Is it? And how might that alter the way the Mavs pick?

This draft doesn't have the "can't miss" superstar at the top. But by the time the Mavs get a pick, that guy would have been long gone anyhow. So we think they will be in the same situation as usual, where they have to sift between the leftovers and hope they find one that can contribute eventually.

One year they found Josh Howard at 29. Roddy was selected at 25.

DONUT 6: The Mavs have aging players at most positions, but a few youngsters already on the roster. What position should they target? It would be a big mistake for them to target any one position. When a team picks this low, there may be only a few players left who will ultimately be worth keeping long term, and if they can land one of them, it's a successful draft. Get ones who can (hopefully) play well, and then trades can help balance the roster later if necessary. In addition, with the team picking 26th, the selected player will likely take a year or two to develop into a contributor. Best player available.

DONUT 7: What would you do if you were picking for the Mavs?

Dallas' first priority this summer should be finding contributors to make another title run. But picking so low, that help isn't likely to come from the draft. And the minutes necessary to get a player from "prospect" to "contributor" will be scarce at best, given the veterans already in place and the promising youngsters in the wings.

In my estimation, that makes it an easy call: I'd select Nikola Mirotic.

Why? Because he's a very talented prospect, who is contracted to play in Europe. In fact, his lack of current availability, while an advantage for the Mavs, is perhaps the only reason he is likely to be available at 26.

Mirotic is 20 years old, 6'-10" and lean. He's the stereotypical young tall Euro who can shoot from the perimeter as well as inside.

But there are some intriguing aspects about him. First, for a young developing player, he's efficient: his PER is one of the best in the European leagues. Second, despite his age he's already an important player on one of the top teams. That's unusual, and it means he will have plenty of opportunity to improve his game going forward. Third, he's more than just a perimeter shooter like so many Euro players seem to be. But most importantly to me, he's locked into a contract that will force him to stay in Europe for several more years – which means he'll be getting floor time in the second-best league in the world rather than being on the bench watching NBA games.

Several of the draft reports have stated that in a couple of years, he'd be a lottery player if he waited until then to enter the draft. How else can a team like Dallas that's always picking so low get a player who one day has a real chance to be so valuable? In addition, while the Mavs wait, the roster slot for this upcoming season can be used on a backup veteran to actually contribute in the season and playoffs.

DONUT 8: If Mirotic was already gone, then what would you do?

I'd be bummed. In fact, even though some of the mock drafts have him going as low as early in the second round, I'd consider trading up a few slots (using the second rounder as the added value) to keep him from getting away.

But if I have to look elsewhere, there are two other ways to "save" the roster slot for a veteran and yet still get some value for that first rounder:

a) Davis Bertans is another young Euro who won't be coming to the NBA right away, and I'd consider using the pick on him. He's also 6'-10", younger than Mirotic (18), and more of a pure offensive player (mostly a perimeter marksman).

On the plus side, he's considered a hard worker, and he has a contract that will keep him in Europe for a while longer. But he hasn't been very impressive in pre-draft workouts (that can change as he develops, of course) so he appears to be more of a longshot than Mirotic to turn into NBA material. Picking 26, and given the fact he would be staying in Europe, he might be worth a pick.

b) Trade for a future 1st-rounder

This choice appeals to me more than Bertans. However the availability is much iffier. I'd be hoping that someone wanted the pick, and I wouldn't ask for cash, but instead I'd target a future pick. Undoubtedly it would be lottery protected, but it would still be a way to save the value until later when youth might be needed more. And could I could get a second rounder, as my tip for waiting?

The Cavs are reportedly eager to jump from early in Round 2 up to the 20s. The Mavs just might be their huckleberry - would Cleveland be eager enough to offer a future No. 2 with lots of protection, for that jump up the ladder?

DONUT 9: If the Mavs decide they prefer someone for now, who should they select?

Based on what I've read, here are seven that intrigue me for one reason or another. If the Mavs pick one of these, I'll have some thought that "maybe they got something here." Then again, who knows? My Super 7 are ….

a Kenneth Faried.

Undersized PF (6-7) who's supposed to be the best rebounder in this draft and whose motor never stops, they say. Is he big enough to do it in the NBA? Maybe he's the next Dennis Rodman.

Most mocks are guessing he'll be picked a few slots before Dallas gets to pick at 26. Of course Dallas always could trade up a few slots, if he's someone they wanted and they can find a trade partner.

b Iman Shumpert

Tall combo guard (6-5), long (6-10 reach), can jump out of the gym (according to Draft Express "the most physically gifted in this entire draft class" with the highest standing vertical since 2007), and he graded highly in the pre-draft workouts. He's 20, played 3 seasons in the ACC, and was a team leader and productive. All-ACC defender. Probably a SG in the NBA.

Like Faried, the mock drafts say he's likely to be gone before 26, but maybe close enough that he'd be within reach of a trade, if the Mavs wanted him.

c Justin Harper

A 6-8 combo forward with range, one (of 20 or so) that the Mavs brought to Dallas for a closer look, a PF in college but would probably be a SF in the NBA. Very skilled and excellent shooter but may be considered too much of a finesse player. Expected to be available at 26.

d JaJuan Johnson

A 6-10 PF who is a well-rounded leaper. All-Big 10 (20 ppg, 9 rbg, 50% FG %), with a skilled low post game and a mid-range shot. He's 22, something some teams avoid but the Mavs have liked in the past. Questions over whether he is too lean to play PF have him as an early 2nd rounder.

e Tyler Honeycutt

A 6-8 wing in the mold of Josh Childress or Tayshaun Prince. Skinny, good defender, smart, good passer, offense needs work. Expected to be available at 26.

f Josh Selby

A 6-2 PG who was a top 5 recruit out of high school a year ago. He didn't have a good year, getting suspended then injured, and his production plummeted. An explosive one-on-one player, but very inexperienced and inefficient (shot 37% this year), so might take some time to develop. The workout reports show a good attitude which could indicate he'll work hard and be a good teammate if it takes a while for him to develop. Likely to last until early 2nd round.

g Darius Morris

A 6-4 PG. Solid but not spectacular, can score (49%), pass (6.7 apg), handle, finish, productive Big 10 player, good first step although not a burner. Andre Miller-ish? Likely to last until early 2nd round.

DONUT 10: DB.com's Mike Piellucci did a wonderful job on some of the likely names the Dallas Mavericks might be targeting at 26.

DONUT 11: Who do other media members think the Mavs will select?

Draft Express – (1) Davis Bertans (2) Michael Dunigan (C, 6-10, 21, Int'l)

NBA Draft.net – (1) Nikola Mirotic (2) Cam Long (SG, 6-4, 22, George Mason)

Yahoo – (1) Davis Bertans (2) Scotty Hopson (Wing, 6-7, 21, Tennessee)

SI - (1) Justin Harper

Detroit Free Press – (1) Travis Leslie (SG, 6-4, 21, Georgia)

Charlotte Observer – (1) Kenneth Faried

NJ Record – (1) Davis Bertans

Sporting News - (1) Justin Harper

Rotoworld – (1) Trey Thompkins (PF, 6-10, 21, Georgia)

Hoops World – (1) Darius Morris (2) Scotty Hopson

CBS – their site has 4 different mock drafts by various "experts": (1) Nikola Mirotic,(1) Justin Harper,(1) Jeremy Tyler (C, 6-10, 20, US/Int'l), (1) Kyle Singler (SF, 6-9, 23, Duke)

DONUT 12: We'll have the whole 75-Member Staff hanging out all day and night at the AAC ... stay tuned here at DallasBasketball.com for the news, analysis and insight!

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