BROOKLYN – Donnie Nelson understands why Dallas Mavericks fans are all pumped about the team picking fifth in tonight’s NBA Draft. However, the Mavs’ president of basketball operations wants fans to be just as excited about the team’s two picks in the second round.
In addition to the No. 5 selection, the Mavs will also have picks numbers 33 and 54 when the draft is held tonight at 6 CT at the Barclays Center. And that’s when Nelson’s excitement level goes through the roof, mainly because of the exceptional across the board depth in this draft.
“This year there are really solid players all the way through the lottery,” Nelson said. “And then it’s a deep draft — call it in the 20-40 area — that’s also I think where we’re going to get something pretty good at 33 as well.
“We feel really good at five, we feel like we’re going to get another really solid swing at 33. And then besides that we’ve just got to play the 54 open.”
It’s not that Nelson is downplaying the treasure chest of potential franchise-type players the Mavs will choose from at No. 5. He simply knows that after beating the bushes while scouting for talent over the past few months, there’s some extremely quality players in the middle and lower end of the draft.
“Especially in this draft, I think there’s a lot of parity when you get into even the late teens all the way kind of through the 40’s,” Nelson said. “You never know.
“We might get doubly lucky if there’s a fall guy that gets down to 54. But there will have to be a lot of things fall perfect.”
Forward Dirk Nowitzki just wants the Mavs to use the draft to find players – especially with the fifth pick – who can have an immediate impact next season.
“When you pick at five you can kind of go in with a plan, but your plan can be overthrow by what’s going to happen right before you,” Nowitzki said. “I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’m hoping we’re going to get a player that’s going to be exciting, that’s going to be young, that has a great upside, but can also help next year.
“A player that can play for 10-plus years and be a solid player for a long, long time, is eager to learn, is coachable. You want all these young guys to have the right intangibles, he wants to work hard and get better and learn from the coaches and some of the older players, so hopefully we’ll find the right guy.”
Whoever that “right guy” winds up being with the fifth selection, guard Wesley Matthews noted that he hopes the Mavs don’t put all of their eggs in that rookie’s basket.
“The fifth pick doesn’t guarantee us anything,” Matthews said. “We can’t be just like, ‘Oh yeah, we got the fifth pick, now we’re going to do this.’
“No, we’ve all got to be a part of it – coaches — everybody with the organization, players. We’ve all got to get better — guys that are already here and coming back to make this transition seamless and smooth so we’re playing in the postseason.”
That “getting better” mantra from Matthews also applies to the three players the Mavs draft tonight. Especially those two picks on the second round.