Here are five options for the Dallas Mavericks’ first pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Coming off Luka Doncic’s exhilarating first trip to the NBA playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks‘ main focus is building a contender around their future MVP. While free agency and the trade market will be key in coming seasons, that sense of urgency to find complementary talent extends to the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft.
Owning the 18th and 31st overall picks in Wednesday’s draft, the Mavs have the opportunity to either package their selections and move up the draft board or add two young, cost-efficient role players to their rotation.
While some of the ideal prospects will already be off the board by pick No. 18 — like Devin Vassell, who does not make our big board for that very reason — there are several 3-and-D wings and combo guards who could prove to be complementary long-term fits alongside Doncic. Bearing all that in mind, let’s dive into the Mavs’ big board for their first-round selection.
Who should the Dallas Mavericks target in this year’s NBA Draft?
1. Saddiq Bey, wing, Villanova, Big Board Rank: 21
Among the 3-and-D wings that will realistically be available at No. 18, Saddiq Bey may very well top the list. At 6-foot-8, this 21-year-old Villanova product has a rapid-fire shot release and does a little bit of everything.
Though he’s not an elite athlete, Bey shot 41.8 percent from deep in his two collegiate seasons, including 45.1 percent on 5.6 attempts per game last year. He has secondary playmaking skills in the pick-and-roll, makes smart decisions and can defend multiple positions capably. His awareness when it comes to defensive rotations and throwing on-target passes reveals a high basketball I.Q. that will help make up for his lack of bounce or quick first step.
Because of his size, he could be a good inside-out mismatch capable of bullying guards down low on one end and defending bigs as a small-ball 4 on the other. He doesn’t have a ton of upside, but he’s the kind of reliable rotation player that Rick Carlisle could immediately plug into the lineup.
2. Tyrese Maxey, guard, Kentucky, Big Board Rank: 9
Even more so than Bey, there’s a decent chance Tyrese Maxey is off the board by the time the Mavs are on the clock, but players slide every year, and in a draft where there’s not much consensus about the pecking order in the first round, we won’t rule anything out.
To that end, this Dallas-Fort Worth area product could really help Dallas on the defensive side of the ball if he’s still available. Thanks to his strong build and long arms, Maxey is a terrific on-ball defender, and because of his good anticipation and ability to stay engaged off the ball, he’s reliable on weak-side rotations as a help defender. The ability to defend either guard spot or even wings would be extremely beneficial for his fit next to Luka Doncic.
Similarly, his average playmaking would be less of an issue next to an elite facilitator like Doncic, but the make-or-break skill for the 19-year-old Maxey is his jump shot. He only shot 32 percent on jumpers last year, but if he can raise his release point, his decent form, good touch and high percentages from the free-throw line suggest he can become at least passable in this area.
3. Josh Green, wing, Arizona, Big Board Rank: 18
Like Maxey, Josh Green’s swing skill is whether his jump shot pans out. He made 36.1 percent of his 3s at Arizona, but it only came on 2.8 attempts per game. If he adds reliable spot-up shooting to his arsenal, this 3-and-D wing would be a tremendous fit in Dallas — or anywhere, really.
At 6-foot-6, with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, Green is an energetic defender both on and off the ball. He’s laterally agile enough to cover guards and strong enough to stick with bigger wings. He’s also a useful slasher and cutter who displayed some decent passing chops on the move.
Though he struggles to score in the half-court, should tighten his handle and needs to work on improving his ability to finish through contact, the Mavs can do a lot worse than this versatile and athletic 19-year-old who can shore up some of their weaknesses on the defensive end of the floor.
4. Desmond Bane, wing, TCU, Big Board Rank: 13
Despite the very real possibility that he could go anywhere between the teens and the early part of the second round, Desmond Bane is gaining steam as a potential first-round sleeper. If the TCU product is available at No. 18, the Mavs should give him a long look.
Despite his unconventional shot mechanics, they worked; the 6-foot-6 wing knocked down a staggering 43.3 percent of his 3-pointers over four years in college. He could very well be the best shooter in the draft, which matters to a Dallas squad that just boasted the greatest offense in NBA history and ranked second in both 3-point attempts and makes. Bane can shoot off the dribble despite a lack of go-to isolation moves, and he’s exceptional in the pick-and-roll.
Though he’s already approaching his 22nd birthday, he’s actually young for a senior. He’s a good finisher and a fundamentally sound defender, but the biggest areas for concern are his T-Rex arms (6-foot-5 wingspan) and lack of athletic pop. That could limit his versatility on the defensive end, which is a potential concern if he were to share a backcourt with a subpar defender like Doncic.
5. Aleksej Pokusevski, forward, Olympiacos B, Big Board Rank: 19
Aleksej Pokusevski is a unique prospect in this year’s draft class, being a 7-footer whose fluidity helps him move like a wing and whose passing ability helps him play like a guard. For Olympiacos B, the 18-year-old posted 16.7 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per 36 minutes last season, showcasing his potential as a shooter, playmaker and rim protector.
Pokosevski is a crafty and accurate passer, is often decisive with the ball in his hands and has solid handles for a guy his size. The problem is he’s so skinny there’s virtually no way he finds success in the NBA unless he gets a lot stronger.
Luckily, 18-year-olds entering a grown man’s league typically do get stronger with the right instruction and training regimen. Poku is a bit of an enigma; he could become the passing version of Kristaps Porzingis, or he could be the next Dragan Bender. That sounds risky from the Mavs’ perspective, but if several of their top targets are off the board by the time the 18th pick rolls around, the potential is too tantalizing to completely dismiss.
Just missed the cut: Aaron Nesmith, Kira Lewis Jr., Theo Maledon, R.J. Hampton