NBA Draft, June 23.
Here’s your chance to get to know the top prospects. Today, we look at the wings and a couple of point guards.
The two-pronged draft strategy for the Mavericks starts with a banger who can rebound and ends with adding more firepower on the wing, both offensively and defensively.
Point guard? That’s way down the list of priorities since the Mavericks already have a pretty good one, and two strong second-in-command players behind Luka Dončić.
But the wing needs are clear. Just about every team in the NBA needs more 3-point shooting and better defensive players on the perimeter.
Last week, we examined the top big-man prospects in the June 23 draft. You can check that out here .
As the Mavericks continue to have individual and group workouts with draft prospects this week at their practice facility, they will begin the process of paring down the list of prospective draftees.
With the 26th pick, they’ll probably take the best player on the board, rather than drafting for need. But if they are waffling on players, the one that fits one of their holes would likely get the nod.
With that in mind, let’s get acquainted with the wings (and a few point guards) who are likely to go in the first round next Thursday.
Jaden Ivey, 6-4, Purdue sophomore.
Seems to be the consensus No. 1 backcourt player in the draft. Has freakish athletic ability that has drawn comparisons to Ja Morant, although that seems a bit heady. He became the fourth Big Ten player since 1992 to accrue 600 points, 175 rebounds, 100 assists, 30 steals and 20 blocks in a a season, joining Draymond Green, Frank Kaminsky and Evan Turner. He’s an improving shooter, but is best when slicing up the defense and either finishing or finding shooters.
Shaedon Sharpe, 6-6, Kentucky freshman.
The Canadian is perhaps the biggest wild card in the draft. Teams near the top of the lottery will have to weigh his individual workouts very carefully because he did not play collegiate basketball while working out with the Wildcats as a mid-year addition. By all accounts, he’s an active mover on the court who can find seams and figure out the spots where he can be effective slashing to the rim. There is no debate about his NBA body. He’ll need some time to polish up his game, but could be the biggest keeper of this class.
Dyson Daniels, 6-7, G-League Ignite.
The Australian skipped the college experience to join the G League and had a solid season at that level, averaging 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He’s got a full package of skills that he showed off at both ends of the floor. He’s not a great shooter, but he’s got a flair for getting shots and making them. But it is his court vision and desire on the defensive end that has most teams intrigued. The idea of big wing players who aren’t afraid to guard is a highly valued commodity.
Benedict Mathurin, 6-6, Arizona sophomore.
Another product of the fast-improving Canadian system and a very talented swingman, he had two impactful seasons at Arizona after going through the NBA’s Latin America Academy in Mexico City. He averaged 17.7 points and shot 37 percent from 3-point land as a sophomore. He’s got a nice blend of shooting ability and athleticism that should translate well to the NBA.
Johnny Davis, 6-5, Wisconsin sophomore.
He didn’t take, or make, a lot of 3-pointers in his collegiate career, which will be a drawback in some scouts’ eyes. However, it didn’t keep him from improving his scoring average more than 12 points per game to 19.7 points per game as a sophomore with the Badgers. He’s expected to go in the lottery, it’s just a matter of where. He plays an aggressive, physical style and played well against the best competition, averaging 24.1 points and 8.5 rebounds against top-25 teams.
A.J. Griffin, 6-6, Duke freshman.
The son of longtime NBA assistant coach and former player, including for the Mavericks, Adrian Griffin, A.J. is a strong specimen who plays bigger than his size and who possesses a terrific outside shot. He shot 44.7 percent from 3-point range and 48.9 percent against Atlantic Coast Conference competition. He doesn’t turn 19 until late August. He’s got the bloodlines and the drive to be a very solid NBA scorer.
Ousmane Dieng, 6-9, International (France).
It’s going to take some patience for whoever takes him, but there is always a lot of interest in a player his size who can handle the ball and moves as well as Dieng does. He did not shoot the ball well with the New Zealand Breakers last season. That will require work. But he’s a fluid ballhandler and it’s worth noting that he is the first European to be part of the Aussie-New Zealand league’s Next Stars program, which helped develop Josh Giddey and LaMelo Ball.
Nikola Jovic, 6-11, International (Mega Mozzart, Serbia).
The rest of these hopefuls probably do not make it into the lottery, which means there is always a chance they could slip to where the Mavericks are drafting at 26th. Jovic is only one letter removed from the reigning two-time MVP of the NBA. But he’s got a long way to go to get in that stratosphere. He’s a good scorer inside and out, but he’s not the most athletic player around. Will have to survive on his instincts, smarts and footwork, all of which he possesses in abundance.
Ochai Agbaji, 6-5, Kansas senior.
There’s only one thing that will keep Agbaji out of the lottery – his age. He stayed at Kansas for all four seasons, and at 22 he’ll be questioned by some scouts who prefer getting younger talent. But he increased his scoring every season (to 18.8 per game as a senior) and made at least one 3-pointer in 53 consecutive games. He’s the prototype for size, length and athleticism for an NBA wing player and he works very hard. Somebody is going to get a player with a lot more polish to his game than some of the younger picks. If he slips through the cracks, could be a great pickup for the Mavericks.
Kendall Brown, 6-8, Baylor freshman.
No wonder the Bears were so strong this past year. This will be their second first-round picks on the board. Brown has tremendous speed end to end and can get past a lot of defenders. He’s also got a reputation as a fearless competitor. However, he had a tendency to disappear at times. He failed to reach double figure scoring in 14 of his last 22 games as a freshman.
Also in the mix (alphabetical order): Patrick Baldwin, 6-10, Wisc.-Milwaukee freshman; MarJon Beauchamp, 6-6, G-League; Malaki Branham, 6-5, Ohio State freshman; Kennedy Chandler, 6-0, Tennessee freshman; Tari Eason, 6-8, LSU sophomore; Jaden Hardy, 6-4, G-League, Jake LaRavia, 6-8, Wake Forest junior; Wendell Moore, Jr., 6-5, Duke junior; Dalen Terry, 6-7, Arizona sophomore; TyTy Washington, 6-3, Kentucky freshman; Blake Wesley, 6-4, Notre Dame freshman; Jalen Williams, 6-5, Santa Clara junior.