As soon as the final pick of the NBA draft was made, teams all over the league began scrambling for undrafted free agents, also known to many as “61st picks.”
The Mavericks were no different and they quickly reached out to a handful of players, including Penn State guard Josh Reaves and Purdue-Fort Wayne’s John Konchar, both 6-5 guards.
“We’re very active with the 61s, absolutely,” Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said even before the draft had concluded with all 60 picks being made.
That much was clear.
In addition to Reaves and Konchar, the Mavericks also quickly made plays for 6-8 West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate and former South Oak Cliff standout and Buffalo product C.J. Massinburg.
It’s unclear whether all of the players would sign non-guaranteed summer-league contracts with the Mavericks. Most have offers from other teams, as well. But members of this group could make up a significant portion of the Mavericks’ summer league squad, which will begin practicing July 1.
Reaves ended his four-year stay at Penn State as the Nittany Lions’ all-time leader in steals and led the Big Ten in that category as a senior. He was named to the all-Portsmouth Invitational Tournament team after averaging 14.3 points and 2.7 steals. He is regarded as a defensive-minded wing player who has a great motor and long arms, which is a big part of why he’s so good at steals and deflections.
Konate, a native of Mali, moved to the U.S. in high school and was an intriguing NBA prospect until a knee injury stalled his development, limiting him to eight games in his junior season at West Virginia. He had a strong sophomore year, averaging 10.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game. He was off to another good start as a junior, averaging 13.6, 8.0 and 2.8 per game. He’s a bruiser at 250 pounds, and had a solid showing in a G-League camp game, suggesting his knee is healthy now. He speaks English, French and Bambara, the official language of Mali, so he would fit in nicely in the Mavericks’ internationally spiced locker room.
Konchar was under the radar at Purdue Fort Wayne, but he dominated at that level. He’s the first player in NCAA Division 1 history with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 500 assists and 200 steals for his career. His averages as a senior were through the roof: 19.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.0 steals. At 23, he’s established himself as a strong competitor at both ends of the floor and he also shot 41.6 percent from 3-point range for his career.
Massinburg is a 6-3 guard who put up strong numbers for a Buffalo team that went 32-4 last season and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. He averaged 18.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. He was the Mid-American Conference player of the year.
The Mavericks have had success with undrafted players before. J.J. Barea is the most notable, but they also plucked Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith and Ryan Broekhoff, among many others, from the army of players who were not drafted.
The Mavericks will continue monitoring other players who slipped through the draft cracks. Several Texas connections have already reached agreements to play elsewhere, including Houston’s Corey Davis, who will go through the Washington Wizards’ summer program.
SMU’s Jarrey Foster apparently is weighing his options. The Mavericks had him on their watch list but have yet to arrive at any decision.
Others who could make sense for the Mavericks: Estonia’s Henri Drell, Central Florida’s 7-6 Tacko Fall and Australian Brian Bowen.