Are the Mavs better off tanking?By Spencer Forsyth
After a 2-5 start to the season, the Mavericks finally picked up their first two wins of the season this week against Milwaukee and Los Angeles. With potential future centerpieces emerging in players like Harrison Barnes and Justin Anderson, would the Mavs be better off cutting losses and trying to nab a top pick?
The Issue: Keeping Dirk Happy
To this point, the Mavs front office has done its best to throw together a solid supporting cast around Dirk to keep the team in playoff contention. Dirk has been quoted saying “Tanking is just not part of my DNA, not the way I’m wired. I want to win, I want to compete.” He’s also said that he will remain with the Mavs as long as he’s having fun and as long as they’re competitive. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the biggest Dirk fan out there. I have a signed Dirk magazine hanging on my wall. He was one of the reasons I fell in love with the Mavs. But it’s time. Looking back to the late 1990’s, in order to get our star of the future we were 63-151 in the three season leading up to the drafting of Dirk. We have some rough years ahead. Harrison is quickly becoming our best player, and over the next two season he’ll iron out the rest of his game and become the ironclad leader of this team. While I want more than anything for Dirk to stay with us for longer, it’s just no longer practical for us as a franchise. In keeping Dirk around, we’re committing to be a mediocre team for whatever duration of time he keeps playing. I would love for Dirk to play until he’s 40, but It’s unlikely to help our future if he does.
My Argument for Tanking
I hate losing. Watching the first five games of the season was extremely difficult. However, if you look at our future draft chances, we’re going to have to be AWFUL to get any benefit out of the draft. After giving up our first round pick to Boston last year (the last piece owed to Boston in the Rondo trade) we now retain the rights to all of our future first round picks. Looking at next year’s draft, the top 6-7 picks will hold much higher value than they did this season. By all standards, this year’s rookie are trash compared to last season (not including Embiid, or the injured Ben Simmons) as the top scorer is averaging 8 points per game. While some of them could be solid players eventually, I think next year’s draft is stacked with talent. As of now, 14 college freshmen are projected to go in the first round. Like I said, losing sucks, but we don’t have the free agent appeal of a place like Miami, New York, or Los Angeles. We’ve proven our inability to build through big name free agents in the past, so our only other outlet is to build through the draft. We’re already 2-5 (presumably 2-6 after the Warriors game)…. Might as well make the best out of this situation and not strive for mediocrity.
The class is headlined by 6’8 SG/SF Josh Jackson, who is said to have one of the highest basketball IQ’s ever in a 19-year-old. The Mavs have their SF/PF of the future in Barnes, but I don’t expect the Mavs to win the lottery either, so we need to look a little deeper to find the pieces that will help us considerably.
1. PG Lonzo Ball, UCLA
6’6 190lbs 19-years-old
Lonzo Ball is one of my favorite prospects in this draft. He’s a 6’6 point guard with ridiculous handles, great court vision, and unreal athleticism. He has a different shot form… but it goes in so who cares. He led his high school team to the State and National Championship in his senior season behind a perfect 35-0 record. Now he heads to UCLA for a season to show what he’s got at the next level. Ball would fill the Mavericks’ long-term void at the PG position, because in all reality D-Will isn’t the answer.
2. PG Markelle Fultz, Washington
6’5 190lbs 18-years-old
Markelle Fultz is slated to go first overall in some draft projections. He’s an all-around stud. Elite scorer, lock down defender, and great distributor. He struggled to knock down shots consistently at the Nike Hoops Summit this summer, but he’s developing that part of his game. Landing Fultz would be a major step in the right direction.
3. PF/C Harry Giles, Duke
6’11 240lbs 18-years-old
I’ve been a Harry Giles fan ever since I saw his high school mixtape. He’s a 6’11 athletic big man that has a frame resembling Nerlens Noel. An amazing rim protector that rebounded the ball ridiculously well in AAU championships (19 rebounds per 40 minutes). Incredibly fast for such a big guy with great handles, and has great touch around the rim with either hand. Oh, and he dunks a ton. Giles would fill the gap in the paint for years to come. Suffered some knee injuries in high school, so watch for that this season at Duke.
4. PG Dennis Smith Jr., NC State
6’2 195lbs 18-years-old
Dennis Smith is an uber-athletic, scoring point guard that has been compared to a young Derrick Rose-style player. He really is ridiculous. Watch the video at the bottom to find out. Smith is coming off a torn ACL in his senior season of high school, so he’s fallen down this list because of the significance of that injury. Keep an eye on him this season, though. He’s crazy talented.
In summary, I think the Mavs need to take advantage of this ridiculous talent at the top of this year’s draft. Like I said, I hate losing. But if it would land us a franchise centerpiece… sign me up. There are a legit 8-10 guys that have true potential to be NBA studs, and I don’t want to waste away another year of being mediocre, losing in the first round, and getting decent guys in the draft. We need a transcendent talent in Dallas, and this is our way to get one.
Want to watch some film on these guys listed to see if you’d want to tank for them?
Lonzo Ball – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duxRUu2ykj4
Markelle Fultz – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng5pNV8t0Mc
Harry Giles – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkW-oJrJ0_s
Dennis Smith Jr. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW1CVy7Un1Y