DALLAS –As the Dallas Mavericks inch closer and closer to one of the biggest days in franchise history, forward Harrison Barnes paused to remind everyone what the NBA Draft Lottery really means.
In short, when the lottery is held Tuesday night in Chicago, the Mavs can finish no worse than sixth. But they have a 13.8 percent chance of hitting the proverbial jackpot and winning the No. 1 overall pick in the June 21 NBA Draft.
That, of course, is what the Mavs are hoping for. And if that happens it’ll be the first time the Mavs have ever won the Draft Lottery since its inception in 1985 when the New York Knicks won the lottery and landed Patrick Ewing.
“In one sense it’ll be great,” Barnes said. “I think people will be definitely excited to have the No. 1 pick, but on the other side I think it’s to be determined what that means. I think if we make the playoffs (next season) and we go from that, I think it’ll be great.
“But to say, ‘Oh, this is great for our long-term future for those fans who have been faithful, who have been coming out every single night, who have been cheering us on for the last two years — and to not really have anything to cheer for come postseason time — I think they would like to see, regardless of what pick we get, somebody that comes in and can obviously help and help us get to the playoffs.”
Since this is a very deep draft this year, the Draft Lottery can do the Mavs no wrong. That’s exactly what occurred last year when the Mavs wound up with the ninth overall pick in the lottery and drafted North Carolina State point guard Dennis Smith Jr.
The 2017 draft was thick with point guards, with four of them going ahead of Smith in the draft. The Philadelphia 76ers chose Washington’s Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick, the Los Angeles Lakers drafted UCLA’s Lonzo Ball No. 2 overall, Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox went fifth to the Sacramento Kings, and the New York Knicks drafted France’s Frank Ntilikina with the eighth overall pick just before Mavs management stabbed their collective fists in the air in celebration when they discovered Smith was still on the board when it was their time to draft.
Of those five point guards taken among the top nine picks a year ago, it’s clear that Smith enjoyed the best rookie season with his 15.2 points and 5.2 assists per game. That’s why Barnes pointed out that the Mavs should be able to draft a player who can impact next year’s team immediately, regardless of where those lottery ping-pong balls fall.
“At this point, it’s all speculation what pick can you get and what’s going to happen,” Barnes said. “After you get your pick, I think then that’s when — for us, because we’re a lottery team — you start to pay more attention to it.
“You start to realize, ‘OK, with this number, what are the picks that are probably going to be in our range?’ If you have a top five pick you have to have a lot more room. Last year at nine was a little different and we got lucky. We’ll see what happens this year.”