The Mavericks struck gold two years ago when they selected Villanova guard Jalen Brunson with the 33rd overall pick in the 2018 draft.
He showed that not every prime NBA contributor has to come from the lottery, or even the first round.
While only a few second-rounders become rotation players or starters, the success stories dot the NBA landscape. And the Mavericks hope they will defy the odds again with sharpshooting guard Tyrell Terry.
They took the Stanford freshman with the first pick of the second round Wednesday night, No. 31 overall.
The 6-2 Terry was projected to go in the first round in many of the mock drafts heading into Wednesday’s proceedings. When he was still on the board at No. 31, the Mavericks were thrilled.
They value shooting, as does every team in the NBA. And Terry proved himself in his freshman season as somebody who can make shots.
“I think I can be a valuable tool for Luka (Dončić) with him in the pick-and-roll and finding shooters and also as a secondary ballhandler,” Terry said late Wednesday night. “And spreading the floor for Kristaps (Porzingis) is going to be important, too. So I think I’ll be a very good fit.”
As do the Mavericks.
President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said that Terry was one of the players that they had pegged hither than No. 31.
“He was definitely one of the top names down there,” Nelson said, referring to the latter half of the first round. “We thought there was a decent chance he would go in the 20s. But luck had it that he slipped to us. He can absolutely shoot the (heck) out of it. Young player with lots of upside.”
Terry said that the Mavericks were one of the teams that was high on his radar during draft Zoom calls and workouts. He also likes the idea of coming to a mostly younger roster.
“I can relate to them and learn from them even though they haven’t been in the league too long,” Terry said.
The Minnesota native will become the second Stanford product on the Mavericks’ roster, joining Dwight Powell. Terry said he hasn’t talked to Powell yet, but thinks it’s pretty neat to have a pair of Cardinals on the roster. “They’ll get to have a little reunion party,” Nelson said.
It will be a rapid-fire initiation into the NBA for Terry as he and other rookies will be in training camp in less than two weeks and playing in the league in little more than a month. No summer league. No real time to get acclimated.
Luckily, he doesn’t need a lot of work on his shot. He made 40.6 percent from 3-point range in his only college season. He’s also regarded as a smart player and a terrific free-throw shooter at better than 89 percent last season.
Along those lines, Cardinal coach Jerod Haase said: “I want the ball in his hands. There’s a great deal of confidence that he’s going to make the right decisions when it’s there.”
Nelson said the Mavericks had lots of nibbles about teams inquiring about the 31st overall pick, as well as the 18th pick, which they used on Josh Green.
Picks near or at the top of the second round have increased in value through the years, largely because they don’t fall under the auspices of the NBA’s rookie salary scale to which all first-round picks are subject.
In the case of Brunson in 2018, the Mavericks loved what they got in the 6-1 guard and signed him for four years at a total of $6-million. There could be something similar in line for Terry.
Among the top second-round finds of the past for the Mavericks are Brunson and Jae Crowder, the 33rd pick of the 2012 draft. The Mavericks are confident that Terry will join that group.
Two-way signee: The Mavericks also filled one of their two-way player contracts after the draft by reaching an agreement with University of Houston product Nate Hinton.
The 6-5 swingman spent two years with the Cougars and is out of Gastonia, N.C., also the home town of Darrell Armstrong, the Mavericks’ assistant coach.
“He’s another defensive-minded, tough small forward,” Nelson said. “He was coached by Kelvin Sampson. And Kelvin said he’s one of the three toughest guys he ever coached, Eddie Najera being one of those guys.”