DALLAS — With the NBA Draft less than two months away, it’s safe to say that the Dallas Mavericks have been hunkering down for quite some time now while anticipating drafting yet another can’t-miss prospect.
That means the Mavs have spent plenty time in the film room and in basketball gyms around the world watching players display their numerous skills.
“There’s no shortage of information,” said Donnie Nelson, the Mavs’ president of basketball operations. “As you know (owner) Mark (Cuban) is the king of technology in turning over every stone, and the analytic piece is second to none in the universe.
“We have access to lots of information as well as you guys know we’re second to none in terms of our global scouting base and our prospects of mining young Maxi Klebers and exceptional free agents. We’ve got a really thick book on all the international prospects in the draft and free agency, so we will absolutely use every means possible — whether it’s the draft or free agency — to utilize everything at our disposal.”
Before playing a very meaningful role in the June 21 draft, the Mavs will partake in the equally important NBA Draft Lottery, which will be held May 15 in Chicago. That’s when they’ll learn their draft position and discover if they’ll win the Draft Lottery for the first time since it was implemented in 1985 when the New York Knicks won the exclusive rights to draft Patrick Ewing.
The Mavs will have no worse than the sixth overall pick in next month’s draft, although they’re very hopeful of winning the Draft Lottery and nabbing the No. 1 overall selection. Plus, the Mavs also go into the draft armed with a pair of second-round selections.
Meanwhile, whoever the Mavs land with that coveted high first-round draft pick, point guard Dennis Smith Jr. is already prepared to show him the NBA ropes. After all, Smith was the No. 9 overall selection in last year’s draft and just went through the gauntlet of elite point guards the league has to offer.
Thus, whenever that time comes, Smith is ready to get in the gym and work his magic with the Mavs’ newest first-round draft choice. And that includes playing alongside the new rookie from July 6-17 when the Mavs compete in the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
“You can’t simulate the game, so for me and him to get some time on the court together, I think that’ll be very important for the season next year,” Smith said. “It’s going to be ups and downs for the rookie coming in next year – whoever that is.
“It’s going to be a learning process, and I believe with me just going through it I can help him out with that.”
Like everyone else in the Mavs’ organization, coach Rick Carlisle knows the importance this year’s draft presents. Carlisle said: “At this point and time in the first round of the draft you’ve got to now be of the mindset that you’ve got to get at least a rotation player and hopefully a player with future star capability.”
The Mavs were 24-58 this season, a year after posting a 33-49 record. They’re expecting this year’s draft pick(s) to help expedite that rebuilding process.
“We’re certainly hoping that we’re not in the early stages of the rebuild,” Carlisle said. “We want to get through this as expeditiously as possible, but there’s no way you can skip steps.
“You’ve got to go through some difficult times with wins and losses, young players have to get experience, they have to gain chemistry with one another. Those things don’t happen overnight and they don’t just happen without some turbulence and without some upheaval.”
Carlisle just hopes the turbulence and upheaval are kept to a minimal.
“The hope is that this draft will be a great one for us,” Carlisle said. “But again, there will be at least a couple of young players that will need experience, that will need a great experience with the summer league team, etcetera.
“And we’re going to be looking to integrate our No. 1 pick — whoever that is and wherever we pick — somewhere into our rotation next year.”