The Dallas Mavericks have their first round pick at slot No. 9 and at the moment that is the only NBA Draft related currency they own.
But there are ways to acquire high second-round picks and low first-round picks.
So, to what was to be the original point of this story: If I'm the Mavs, one of the reasons I wish to get my hands on an extra pick is so I can get my hands on a player like Jonathan Jeanne.
Sadly, the story has now changed.
What I was prepared to write until Thursday, when agent Bouna Ndiaye revealed to The Vertical's Shams Charania that Jeanne has been diagnosed with a potentially career-ending disorder called "Marfan syndrome,'' was about how the 7–2 center from France happens to be training under the watchful eye of Ndiaye right here in Dallas; it is a big basketball world out there, which is why Donnie Nelson has been conducting Mavericks business in Europe, in Australia, and in China. (Search through our Mavs News Archives and you'll see what I mean.)
And here, the basketball world had come to DFW.
This is an era in the NBA when agents run the pre-Draft visits. It's not always easy to get the most high-profile kids to visit your town. So you take advantage of convenience whenever you can.
I know for a fact the Mavericks know all there is to know about muscle-man Semi Ojeleye from SMU. I assume the same to be true about his teammate Sterling Brown from the Mustangs. (See our scoop on their Mavs visit plans here.)
Terrance Ferguson is listed as having played in Australia and it's true. But he is a native of DFW and a former protégé of Deion Sanders (a Prime Prep mess that deserves a story all its own) and I promise you that while he’s billed in national stories as a “mystery man,’’ the Mavericks are well-stocked in Ferguson thoughts.
And they don't need to travel anywhere to gather those thoughts; they exist right here in the DFW backyard. …. with Ojeleye, Brown and Ferguson not worthy of the No. 9 pick, of course … but worthy of being considered with a later pick in the June 22 process.
So it was to be with Jeanne.
Playing in France, the 19-year-old did not post stellar numbers (as is often the case). But at the 2017 NBA Combine in Chicago, scouts could not miss his craftiness and fluidity. In addition to standing 7-2, he boasts a 7'6 ½ wingspan.
Because talent a valuation is an inexact science, there are, of course, "buts."
Jeanne is strikingly thin at just 207 pounds -- and this is after having added 20 pounds to his frame in the past year.
Teams can assume he will "fill out" ... but.
And another "but" as it relates to the Mavericks: Dallas has, during the Dirk Nowitzki era, been largely hyper-focused on adding players who can (theoretically) help now. … that is to say, help HIM now. The most famous, and most painful, example of this, is of course opting to budget for Dwight Howard the free-agent instead of opting to see the promise in The Greek Freak. But I believe this mindset was in play, too, when in that same 2013 draft, a Dallas scouting department attraction to a skinny French center named Rudy Gobert was scuttled because of how long it might take him to become a real NBA player.
Dallas needed help NOW. But “nows’’ come and go quickly.
Gobert lasted until the 27th pick, when Denver took him and swapped him to the Jazz for Erick Green and cash. Gobert has become a foundation piece in Utah from the same draft as Giannis Antetokounmpo … and in Dallas, all there is to show from the draft is the ghost of Shane Larkin.
Fast forward to 2017 and let's ponder whether the Mavericks were going to come to the realization that drafting "the next Gobert" is a move worth waiting for. Ponder it so strongly that you could've visualized Utah (picking at No. 24) being the one to add Jeanne to serve as Gobert's caddy.
Jonathan Jeanne would've represented a long-term investment in Dallas … for an organization that needs to be thinking long-term. He would've represented a late-first-round target for a Mavs team that doesn’t have a late-first-round pick … but can invent clever ways to get one, as we illustrate here.
And among talk of “mystery men’’ and in a climate in which agents are refusing to expose their clients to far-flung workouts … the Dallas Mavericks had every reason to make a connection with their DFW workout “neighbor’’ Jonathan Jeanne.
But again, the story has changed.
Marfan syndrome is a genetic illness that affects connective tissues. The disorder sidelined former Baylor center Isaiah Austin from basketball for over two years, costing him a shot at being taken in the 2014 NBA Draft. Austin did return to play basketball this year in Europe, so there is hope here. But the Jeanne announcement likely ends any chance of him being selected on June 22, as the story has changed, from one about this big basketball world to one about something even bigger than that.