NBA Draft night: Mavericks gamble with trades, ultimately improve roster
Many fans that waited in line for the Dallas Mavericks Draft party brought back stories of the 2021-2022 NBA Western Conference Finals. For those fans, they remember the excitement of a competitive year only 1 year removed from falling short to then NBA champions, Golden State Warriors. The 2022-2023 season had major ups and downs, and collectively the defensive inefficiencies that Mavericks face on a nightly basis became too much to overcome.
The excitement in the venue had an optimistic vibe as if fans knew a turning of the tide for the Mavericks was coming. Mavericks’ fans showed up and showed out on Thursday evening to support a team with tremendous upside in spite of falling short of the playoffs this past season. As you walked into the venue, several draft class alumni pillars of the previous Dallas Mavericks caught your attention. Jason Kidd that was drafted in 1994 and current Dallas Mavericks head coach, Hall of Fame legend Dirk Nowitzki from the class of 1998, Luka Doncic class of 2018, and Josh Green class of 2020.
Ultimately, Dallas has identified talent in how it will fit in what the team is building. The 2023 NBA Draft was an example of the Mavericks front office understanding the need to make an impact for their roster to set up a huge free-agency offseason. Dallas Mavericks had the number 10 overall draft pick, and as the top 8 players were selected from various NBA team, there was a report that went viral in social media that the Mavericks had traded the number 10 overall draft pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Davis Bertans (forward from the mavericks). Thunder now owned the draft rights to Cason Wallace, guard out of Kentucky. Every topic of conversation in the venue had a question attached to it, who are we going to draft? It was as simple as, draft the best Center available.
The reason for it, the Dallas Mavericks have not had a consistent, nor efficient Center in quite some time. With the 12th pick in the NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks (from Oklahoma City Thunder) selected Dereck Lively II, Center from Duke. The biggest compliment that can be described about Lively II is that he compares similarly to Tyson Chandler, who won an NBA championship with Dallas. Lively II will impact the game immediately; his energy and high-motor playing style will also help in Jason Kidd’s system. Lively II has a highlight reel that displays his offensive awareness in the paint and ability to finish in traffic at a high level will improve the frontcourt of the Mavericks. Defensively is where Dereck Lively II can become a superstar with his ability to protect the paint and fit the role of a true glass cleaner. As the pick was announced, an exuberant cheer and approval of noise overcame the Mavericks’ fans at the draft watch party. Dallas fans knew how historically low their rebounding margins were last season, and this pick will help improve defensive sets in addition to not allowing offensive rebounds and set chance points.
A jolt in the venue was felt, and unloading the contract/salary from Davis Bertans foreshadowed what was to come next. With the 24th pick the Sacramento Kings drafted Power Forward, Olivier-Maxence Prosper from Marquette. This is important for Mavericks fans to know, as he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, and the Kings included Richaun Holmes as part of the Traded Player Exception that was created with the OKC trade that sent Bertans to the Thunder. Now Holmes will give major role-playing minutes for the Mavericks bench, but will bring a veteran leadership to the locker room and provide Dallas with an improved one-two punch at the center position prior to the free-agency window likely to bring a power forward to the Mavs. Dallas Mavericks fans celebrated and cheered this evening. It was almost as if the team had just won a NBA game, but in this case the excitement was in full support of what is being built by Mark Cuban and Nico Harrison.