Mavs At No. 21: What Does History Draft?

DALLAS - We say there is a level of unpredictability and we say history tends to repeat itself. With that in mind and with the NBA Draft on the horizon ... what type of player will the Mavs draft with the 21st pick? Let’s take a look at the previous 20 years and how each No. 21 player panned out.

Outlook on Pick Number 21

If there was a time of the year where the NBA is turned into a reality TV show, it’s the offseason. Players leave teams, rivalries are developed, rookies get drafted and have their dreams turn into a reality, the list goes on and on, really. Arguably the most fun thing for fans to do during the season is for us all to turn into analysts. Everybody becomes a critic. Everyone knows what’s best for THEIR team and who THEIR team should draft or target. But the reality is, no one really knows what they’re getting before the draft. If that’s the case, Michael Jordan would have gone number one in 1984. Kobe wouldn’t have been number 11. MILWAUKEE WOULDN’T HAVE TRADED Dirk Nowitzki!

For real, no team knows for sure what will happen with their draft pick.

But, history tends to repeat itself. For the most part, teams with the number one overall pick tend to end up selecting an alright guy (only seven of the previous 20 haven’t been selected for an All-Star game, one of them being named Andrew Wiggins). So with the level of unpredictability drawing a lot of question marks and history tending to repeat itself, what type of player will the Dallas Mavericks draft with the 21st pick? Let’s take a look at the previous twenty years and how each player panned out.

1995: Michael Finley

1995: Michael Finley, SF, Phoenix Suns. Career Averages: 15.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.9 APG. Career Lasted: 15 seasons


What better way to start out this article than taking a look at Michael Finley. Chances are, if you’re a Mavs fan, you’ve heard Finley’s name before. He was part of Dallas’ “big-three” from 1998-2004 alongside Steve Nash and Dirk. Finley was gifted offensively. In his prime years in Dallas (’97-’02), he averaged 21.5 points a night while shooting 45.5% from the floor. He also played an enormous 41.4 minutes per game in that span. The only players close to that workload in the last forty years (yes, 4-0) were Allen Iverson and Latrell Sprewell. Finley, now part of Dallas' front office, was a tremendous snag at number 21 for Phoenix.

1996: Dontae’ Jones

1996: Dontae’ Jones, SF, New York Knicks. Career Averages: 2.9 PPG, 0.6 RPG, 0.3 APG. Career Lasted: One season

Jumping from one extreme to the next, we’ve come to our first bad 21st pick. Not much to say here. Jones played 15 games in the league before going to the ABA and overseas to play in Greece, Turkey, Italy, Korea and China. Not a good pick. But giving the Knicks the benefit of the doubt, not many notable players were taken after Jones, either. The only name that really pops out is Derek Fisher at 24. But in the grand scheme of things, Jones was irrelevant in the NBA.

1997: Anthony Parker

1997: Anthony Parker, SG/SF, New Jersey Nets. Career Averages: 9.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.3 APG. Career Lasted: 15 years

Parker wasn’t really relevant until 2005 when he was with the Toronto Raptors. Before that, he bounced around (no pun intended) between teams in the NBA and in Europe, never really finding his groove. In 2005, he was signed by the Raptors and really blossomed. He was the starting shooting guard for the team and was respected as a good three-point shooter (shot an astounding 44% from behind the arc. The same as Steph Curry this year). He helped Toronto win their first-ever division title and locked down Vince Carter in the first-round of playoffs. He was out the door in Toronto in 2009 when Toronto drafted DeMar DeRozan. He retired in 2012.

1998: Ricky Davis

1998: Ricky Davis, SG/SF, Charlotte Hornets. Career Averages: 13.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.3 APG. Career lasted: 12 years

Ricky Davis was the guy no one wanted to be on their team, but everyone wanted a teammate like him. His hard-headedness defined his bumpy career. Davis violated the NBA’s drug policy, which sent him overseas, always longing to come back to the NBA. His personality outweighed his performance on the court so much that no team really cared to put up with his immaturity, most notably when he tried to get a triple-double by intentionally missing on the wrong basket and grabbing his 10th rebound. He was a gunner, a punk, a cocky teammate… now that I say all of that, I’m realizing that he was J.R. Smith.

1999: Jeff Foster

1999: Jeff Foster, C, Indiana Pacers. Career Averages: 4.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 0.9 APG. Career Lasted: 13 years

Foster was the type of "other'' center every team strides to have. Heck, he wasn’t an Olajuwon or an O’Neal. He was a Foster. He was never guaranteed a starting position, which fueled his work ethic to perform well while on the court. His biggest upside was his offensive rebounding. Foster only averaged 20.6 minutes per game, but in those 20 minutes a night, he would grab an average of 2.8 offensive rebounds. That doesn’t sound like much, but to put it in perspective, that’s 4.8 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes. DeAndre Jordan, arguably the best rebounder in the league, only averages 4.1 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes. He was better on the offensive glass (in a sense than Mavs free agent target DeAndre Jordan? Wow.

2000: Morris Peterson

2000: Morris Peterson, SG/SF, Toronto Raptors. Career Averages: 10.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.5 APG. Career Lasted: 11 years

Peterson’s career was streaky. His first three years in the league, he averaged more than his career totals. He was forced to step up in the wake of a new era of younger Raptors being brought in. Peterson adopted a leadership role and transformed himself into the role the Raptors needed him to be: an elite perimeter defender. Mo-Pete never really did anything spectacular while in the league besides be your average role-playing leader on the team.

2001: Joseph Forte

2001: Joseph Forte, PG/SG, Boston Celtics. Career Averages: 1.2 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 0.7 APG. Career Lasted: 2 years

Here’s another player who’s career didn’t pan out as expected. Forte played shooting guard at UNC. While at UNC, he had flashes of greatness, which prompted the Celtics to draft him at number 21. They tried moving him to a point guard role where Forte struggled big time. He was eventually released and no NBA team wanted to sign him. He went to the D-league and then played overseas.

2002: Qyntel Woods

2002: Qyntel Woods, SF, Portland Trail Blazers. Career Averages: 4.1 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.6 APG. Career Lasted: 4 years

Woods’ career was never really established. He played in two seasons with Portland before being charged with animal cruelty regarding dog fights. He was released and later picked up by the Heat before his mediocre career continued. Eventually he was sent down to the D-league, and then later off to Europe. I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

2003: Boris Diaw

2003: Boris Diaw, PF, Atlanta Hawks. Career Averages: 9.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.6 APG. Career Lasted: 12 years and counting

Boris Diaw. The most confusing player in all of basketball. I’m still questioning how he can move his body quickly enough to be a semi-elite defender in the league. Diaw’s early career was mostly spent as an important piece in Phoenix’s system, averaging 31.6 minutes per game. He’s never been the best scorer or rebounder, but he’s been an excellent passer for a big man. He can space the floor well and defend almost any position on the floor. He was most recently faced with the task of guarding LeBron James in the 2014 NBA Finals, which left many scratching their heads. Diaw on James. But it worked. Diaw is the role-player every team wants.

2004: Pavel Podkolzin

2004: Pavel Podkolzin, C, Utah Jazz. Career Averages: 0.7 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0 APG. Career Lasted: 2 years


Podkolzin was a massive 7’ 5” center who never really did anything in the league. He played both of his seasons for Dallas after being drafted for the Mavs by Utah. His career lasted a total of 28 minutes over two seasons. "P-Pod,'' as called him, was basically an irrelevant player. ... and a Mavs miss.

2005: Nate Robinson

2005: Nate Robinson, PG, Phoenix Suns. Career Averages: 11.1 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3 APG. Career Lasted: 10 years and counting

Is Nate “KryptoNate” Robinson lurking around the league? The answer is yes. Robinson has been a backup point guard for seven teams. He has a knack for being a spark off the bench, but being extremely undersized – but not too small to dunk. Robinson is the only three-time winner of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Robinson can shoot from deep, but other than that, has a poor field-goal percentage. He, like many other 21st overall picks, is a role player.

2006: Rajon Rondo

2006: Rajon Rondo, PG, Phoenix Suns. Career Averages: 10.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 8.3 APG. Career Lasted: 9 years and counting

Rajon Rondo might just be the best 21st overall pick ever. As much as I don’t like him for his recent stint with the Mavs, he’s a good player. Rondo is well known for his prolific passes and his great defense. He has the killer-instinct every team desires in their point guard. His biggest flaw is his ability to space the floor. Rondo had great success in Boston (the team Phoenix drafted him for) while being surrounded by Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but without great players around him and chemistry, he’s struggled. His next job? Hopefully Rondo can serve as a Mavs sign-and-trade weapon in this year's Summer Shopping.

2007: Daequan Cook

2007: Daequan Cook, SG, Philadelphia 76ers. Career Averages: 6.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.7 APG. Career Lasted: 6 years

Cook was a role player for the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. He could space the floor well, but was rarely used. His three-point shooting was great, as he won the 2009 NBA three-point contest. Cook was nothing more than a role player, averaging right at 18.3 minutes per game.

2008: Ryan Anderson

2008: Ryan Anderson, PF, New Jersey Nets. Career Averages: 12.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.9 APG. Career Lasted: 7 years and counting

Anderson is your above-average stretch-4. He could easily start on most teams, but for some strange reason, he sits the bench for some guy named Anthony Davis. In the 2013-2014 season, Anderson shot nearly 41% from three, and averaged 19.8 PPG. He’s not the best rebounder, passer or defender, but he’s an excellent option to space the floor for a big-man. I guess you could say he’s a poor-man’s Dirk Nowitzki. Maybe.

2009: Darren Collison

2009: Darren Collison, PG, New Orleans Hornets. Career Averages: 12.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5 APG. Career Lasted: 6 years and counting

Collison had a short stint with the Mavericks back in 2013 in the middle of their What-the-heck-are-we-doing? phase. He’s not bad. He’s just not great. He made for an excellent backup point guard in 2014 coming off the bench for Chris Paul, and had an alright season starting for Sacramento this year. For the 21st overall pick in 2009, he’s not a bad point guard. He’s one of the better picks we’ve seen.

2010: Craig Brackins

2010: Craig Brackins, PF, Oklahoma City Thunder. Career Averages: 1.8 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.5 APG. Career Lasted: 2 years

I’m asking the same question you are. Who is this guy? His story actually overlaps with another player previously mentioned in this article. After being drafted by OKC, he was traded to New Orleans in a package deal which included Morris Peterson. Brackins has been bouncing back and forth between Europe and the D-League since 2011.

2011: Nolan Smith

2011: Nolan Smith, PG, Portland Trail Blazers. Career Averages: 3.3 PPG, 1 RPG, 1.2 APG. Career Lasted: 2 years

Like many other names listed above, Nolan Smith’s NBA career was limited. He dominated the D-League, but struggled when he played in the bigs. He played overseas for two years and most recently played for the Delaware 87ers. He was waived in January.

2012: Jared Sullinger

2012: Jared Sullinger, PG, Boston Celtics. Career Averages: 11.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.6 APG. Career Lasted: 3 years and counting

Sullinger’s exposure to the league has been small, but it’s only been good stuff so far. He’s a big guy who can do much of what's asked of a power forward. He’s limited because of injuries, but can score and space the floor. He has great offensive upside and may pair well alongside Kelly Olynyk in the future.

2013: Gorgui Dieng

2013: Gorgui Dieng, C/PF, Utah Jazz. Career Averages: 7.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 APG. Career Lasted: 2 years and counting

Dieng is too young to see the immediate future with. But the instant analysis is that he has tremendous upside to match the Timberwolves’ young talent. This past season he averaged 10 points a night to match 8.6 rebounds per game and 1.8 blocks per game. He also shot 51% from the floor. Dieng is nearly a 7-footer and has set course for a bright future in a young organization. ... and was a player Dallas liked that year -- though not enough to actually select.

2014: Mitch McGary

2014: Mitch McGary, PF/C, Oklahoma City Thunder. Career Averages: 6.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 0.4 APG. Career Lasted: 1 year and counting

McGary lucked out this season. He was originally the third-stringer at either big-man position behind Ibaka, Collison, Adams and Kanter. But with Ibaka’s injury, McGary stepped in as the backup to Collison. When deployed into action, McGary was used more for defensive purposes, but had decent numbers for only 15.2 minutes per game. It’s too early to see what McGary will be like, but he’s in a tough spot with a crowded OKC backcourt.

In Summary

So, some takeaways of the 21st overall pick are obvious. ...


It seems to be a reoccurring theme that most players turn into role-players. Role players are interchangeable, but valuable. It’s not impossible to strike gold with number 21, as Boston did with Rondo, or Phoenix did with Finley, just very rare. It’s also common to draft a player who doesn’t really belong in the NBA. With suggestions that this draft is extremely deep, whoever is drafted at 21 could very well be a contributor. (We've got tons of Mavs Draft coverage loaded up for you here.) That’s all dependent on if Dallas keeps its pick and if they make the right choice ... something that, as we note here, has been a Mavs bugaboo in recent years. The good news? There is a change in the way Dallas is strategizing for the next two weeks ... We've got the scoop here ... and your invitation to try Mavs Premium for the best insight in the game!

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