The only thing we know to expect from the Dallas Mavericks on draft night is the unexpected. The Mavs only have one pick, yet our Mike Fisher is hearing plenty of stuff out of the Mavs, so use our DB.com News Archives and your imagination to figure out what Mark Cuban and company has planned.
The Mavs do have the No. 46 overall pick, and assuming they keep it they'll use it on a player that they hope can have some impact in the next year or two. Based on player rankings at several different sites, there are some legitimate prospects at No. 46, but no one has a clue what the Mavs will do. Hit six different mock drafts and you'll find six different players.
Who might the Mavs be interested in? I took a look at players by position group — realistic possibilities — leading up to the draft. Today we look at centers, and the Mavs could certainly use a young big man in the middle.
A.J. Hammons, C, Purdue (7-foot, 250 pounds)
Your prototypical back-to-the-basket center, Hammons has plenty going for him. Watch his tape and you can see a player with a refined post game that one would expect from a guy who played four years of college basketball. He has shooting range from eight feet out, has a 7-foot-3 wingspan and led the Big Ten in blocks each of his four seasons of college. His senior-year averages of 15 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game lead one to believe that his production can translate to the next level. He was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season. What he needs to work on is passing out of the post and limiting his turnovers. But the raw materials are there and I could see him working his way into an immediate backup role, as his height, defensive and physical play are sorely needed in this lineup.
Diamond Stone, C, Maryland (6-foot-11, 255 pounds)
Stone is another old-school center like Hammons, except Stone is just 19, a full five years younger than Hammons. So if you're thinking about the future that has definite appeal. Stone stepped on the floor his freshman year and led the Terps to the Sweet 16, earning Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. He averaged 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots last season. Like Hammons, he has a considerable wingspan (7-foot-2 3/4) and likes to block shots. Plus, at 255 pounds he will be hard to move around down low. He is a solid shooter and moves around well in the post, but doesn't have the elite athleticism that would likely make him a first-round pick. In the plus column he's a solid free throw shooter and teams won't be able to resort to Hack-a-Diamond (which, in of itself, is a great name). He isn't fully developed, and that's the chief difference between he and Hammons. Hammons is a nearly-finished product, based on his tape. Stone has a ways to go, based on his tape, and at times lacks discipline, both in the post and in how he gets up and down the floor. But the raw materials are undeniable and with a couple of years of solid coaching he could emerge as a starter.
Zhou Qi, C, China (7-foot-2, 218 pounds)
Because taking a Chinese center worked so well the first time — or are you too young to remember the greatness of Wang Zhixhi? By the way, the joke's on us. The 36-year old center is still playing in China. All kidding aside, Qi played for Xinjiang last year and because he's young and he played in China his value is all over the place (some see him as a first-round pick, some as a second-round pick). His wingspan (7-foot-7 3/4) is one of the longest in this draft. He's already worked out in Dallas and he's expected to play in the Olympics in Rio. He needs to put on some weight, but he was still able to lead his league in blocked shots last season (3.2 per game). He's considered a solid defender and good passer out of the post. But he wasn't much of an offensive player, which is the biggest difference between him and the other centers on this list. He comes to any NBA team needing a year or two to add weight, learn the game and make the most of short minutes. You take him and you're banking on projection, not immediate production.
Georgios Papagiannis, C, Greece (7-foot-2, 275 pounds)
First off, Papagiannis is an immediate inductee onto any all-name team. Like Xi, he's a projection player. You're banking that you can develop him for a year or two, perhaps even leaving him overseas during that time, so that he can emerge as a starter or immediate backup. He's just 18 and he didn't play much in the Greek League last year — 11 minutes, 6.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. Scouts love the size. At 275 pounds, he could be a huge asset in the pick and roll game (though, scouts point out that his roll game needs work). He shot 68 percent from the field a year ago and his range is out to 15 feet. If there something that sticks out in the scouting reports I've read is that Papagiannis can work both sides of the paint, can make moves to either side of his body and is more athletic and quick inside than you might expect. His film shows plenty of promise. But of the four players listed, he is probably the farthest from playing meaningful NBA minutes.
Worth noting: Donnie Nelson and the Mavs scouting department is well-known for having connections overseas ... and yeah, in recent years that especially goes for China and Greece.
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