|The Dallas Mavericks select: Dirk Nowitzki, SF, 6-10, Germany with the 6th pick. GM'ing for the Mavs is Patrick Despain.|
I. Team Needs/Recent History
The Mavericks are at a crucial stage in the development of the young team. After the three J's, another coaching change, and a blown up roster, the Mavericks have positioned themselves, where they have a chance at NBA respectability this upcoming season, and a possible playoff birth in a few years. The two keys to make this possible are, free agency in the summer of 1999 where the Mavericks will have an estimated $10+ million under the salary cap. The other key is this year's NBA Draft. The Mavericks must come away with a player that can contribute to the team in the near future.
Although the Mavericks ended the season 20-62, had a rash of injuries, and went through another coaching change. Current Head Coach and General Manager Don Nelson, has the ship pointed in the right direction for the first time in many seasons. Nellie brought in Cedric Ceballos to help take the load off of Michael Finley, and maybe more important, he brought his son in from Phoenix. Donnie Nelson, the Mavericks next Head Coach, and current assistant to his father, has instilled a tough defensive attitude.
Finally, the Mavericks have some stability in the front office and on the bench. The coaching future of the team has already been determined, and the Mavericks have a plan that could yield some impressive results in a year or two.
II. Player Analysis
At the center position the Mavericks are relying on Shawn Bradley. His 7'6" frame can pose problems at times for opponents, but his lack of strength and unpolished post game sometimes creates problems for the Mavericks. Realisitically Shawn should score 16 points and grab 12 rebounds a night, but he has yet to reach his potential, and alot of front office personnel think he may never reach that potential. Shawn can make you shake your head in disgust at times, then other times he can really wow you. Against Portland last season he had a 20 point, 20 rebound, and 20 block night. Some nights he may have 3 rebounds.
At the backup center slot, the Mavericks used rookie Australian Chris Anstey and much traveled Eric Riley. Riley, expected to play in Europe this season had little playing time. Anstey on the other hand, started the season slow and seemed overmatched in the beginning. Nellie, unhappy with Anstey, talked to the young 7-footer and he responded. Anstey became an extremely valuable player off of the bench toward the end of the season. Chris scored 26 against Boston, helped the Mavericks beat the Bulls with some huge rebounds, and also contributed in wins against Minnesota, Washington, Seattle, and Indiana.
The Mavericks seem to be well stocked at this position, but if you look closer, you see several weaknesses. Samaki Walker, while turning into a real inside scoring force, has yet to prove he can play for an entire season. Kurt Thomas, the enforcer the Mavericks so desperately need, has yet to recover from several broken ankles. AC Green, the consummate professional, is another year older.
They key to the Mavericks having on court success, is Kurt Thomas and Walker. Thomas and Walker both are inside scoring threats. Thomas the emotional player who seems to have that certain fire teams look for, and Walker, the young athletic scorer/rebounder certainly make the Mavericks a much better team. Another year of injuries to these two players should result in another 20-62 season
The Mavericks have a nice player in Cedric Ceballos. The problem is Cedric is a free agent July 1, and the Mavericks have nobody to replace him, if he leaves. Michael Finley could step in and play the 3 spot, but you then have a void at either the point guard or shooting guard, depending on this year's draft. The ideal situation would be to resign Ceballos, at a decent price, keep Finley at the 2 spot, and get somebody that can play point, or get Robert Pack back healthy and productive.
There is one other option that is to find a small forward in the draft as a safety net in case Ceballos does in fact leave. There has been some talk about the Mavericks going with a big lineup next year, if the Mavericks cannot fill the point guard position. Such as:
This is one position the Mavericks have no problem. Michael Finley is a star waiting to happen, and with Hubert Davis coming off of the bench, Nellie has a good situation. Finley has very few weaknesses (ballhandling, and his post play needs some improvement), and many strengths. His outside shot, quickness, and ability to score the ball, is an excellent asset to the Mavericks.
Hubert Davis as a backup, a nice commodity for the Mavericks, has ability to shoot the ball, which many teams look for.
Here is where the troubles begin. Robert Pack, Erick Strickland, and even at times Hubert Davis. The Mavericks, with no legitimate starting point guard, that can stay healthy, are in real trouble again, unless that void can be filled in the draft.
Erick Strickland is a nice player off of the bench. He brings energy and makes defensive plays. He too, was not healthy for much of the season. Robert Pack, is an out of control player that thinks score before pass, and that poses a problem for the Mavericks. Don Nelson recognized that immediately and Pack went directly into Nellie's doghouse. As a matter of fact, he is still in the doghouse, but now Shawn Bradley joins him. This position, is where the Mavericks would like to find a player from the college ranks, that can step in and help the team, right now.
The Mavericks have talent, just not enough of it. Other than Finley, they do not have talent in key positions, or enough talent to make up for their deficiencies. But, the team is young, they have a seasoned coach, a strong number one assistant coach, a high draft pick, and a lot of money under the cap next summer. The most inept franchise in the NBA, south of the Canadian border, may not be inept for too much longer. Get ready for playoff runs in Dallas in a few years, as the Reunion Rowdies come back, and basketball in Big D becomes fun again.
III. My Pick
IV. Who they probably take
Dirk Nowitzki. The 19-year-old small forward from Germany, may be the best player in this draft. He is young, but his upside is tremendous. He can score, pass, rebound, and run the floor. The Mavericks still end up with a void at the point guard position, but add another player that can run the floor, and more importantly rebound the basketball. Probable starting lineup:
|Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner|