Let me preface this by saying that this is not my overall big board, which is how I rank the draft’s best players. That will come later, but this one is catered to the Mavs. Essentially, this ranks the combination of overall big board position and how much a player’s addition would impact the Mavs. So in this, guards as a whole are going to be much lower, whereas power forward and/or center will be dominating the top. The number in parentheses after the listed college is my overall ranking of the player on my big board. This will only feature 20 players since conference play has not started yet.
- DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona (1). As I hinted on Twitter, the big man is not dead in the NBA. A skilled, do it all center, is incredibly valuable in this league. See: Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis, Nikola Jokic, and Demarcus Cousins.
- Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke (2). Bagley is arguably the most talented player in this draft, but has some holes in his game currently. He’s still putting up incredible numbers despite a lot of elite scoring skills. If his offense continues to develop, he has a great chance of being the best player from the draft. I have him #2 because I see his hard work, high motor, and basketball pedigree helping him successfully fill in the rest of his game at the NBA level.
- Jaren Jackson JR, PF/C, Michigan State (5). You can find my scouting report of Jackson here. Jackson would be a great fit because of the need for a do it all defensive big that knows his limits offensively.
- Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas (7). I put Bamba behind Jackson both on this board and my overall big board due to Bamba’s very skinny body and his subpar offensive numbers. He is shooting 16% from 3 and 61% from the line (entering Christmas), which is concerning. While his length is nearly the best of all time and he is averaging nearly 6 blocks per 40 minutes, he’s not performing well on offense during out of conference play.
- Luka Doncic, Wing, INTL (3). Doncic is the first non big man to be on the list. Doncic is an incredible talent, and while he needs the ball in his hands and is not a great athlete, Carlisle has worked with top talents that lack great athleticism in the past and has been able to make them work.
- Michael Porter JR, F, Missouri (4). Unfortunately, he’s going to be the biggest enigma on the list since he’s played just 2 college minutes. However, his potential to be an athletic shooter in the NBA is very difficult to ignore. The only reason Porter isn’t higher, assuming Porter recovers from his injury well, is his awkward fit with Harrison Barnes.
- Mikal Bridges, Wing, Villanova (11). Mikal Bridges is the best 3&D prospect in the NBA, and one of the safest players in the draft. While his upside may not be that high due to his lack of great shot creating skills, he has a very high floor. Bridges would very quickly fill in for Wesley Matthews’ role for the future.
- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma (9). The Mavs desperately need offense, and while guard is already stacked, Young can both coexist with DSJ and immediately improve the offense.
- Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky (8). Knox has shown a lot of scoring abilities, both off the dribble and as a spot up shooter. Knox would be higher if Barnes wasn’t on the roster.
- Wendell Carter, PF, Duke (10). Carter has one of the best NBA bodies in the draft, and has shown tremendous offensive ability. He can shoot an occasional three and has good touch around the rim. He’s a great rebounder and has defensive upside thanks to athleticism and a 7’3 wingspan.
- Lonnie Walker, G, Miami (12). I had a hard time with this spot, but the Mavs’ second biggest position of need is shooting guard. Walker is my highest rated SG, thanks to dynamic athleticism, good body control, and good shooting ability. He also fits the Mavericks’ bill as being an undersized guard.
- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama (6). While Sexton is clearly above the players ranked near him, his fit with Dallas is poor as long as Dennis Smith is on the roster. Sexton needs the ball in his hands and needs to run an offense. His scoring abilities are among the best in the NBA, but cannot possibly fit with the current Mavericks core.
- Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky (13). Diallo is one of the best athletes in the class, and was the hot commodity after the combine in May when Diallo had some of the best measurements and athletic testings. He is an intense defender and elite athlete, but his jump shot has a hitch in it, which worries me that his shot may not translate. Diallo is a project, but if he hits, the Mavs will have found their shooting guard for the future. The pairing of Diallo and Smith would be the best athletically in the NBA.
- Troy Brown, SF, Oregon (17). A jack of all trades, Brown could be a good secondary ball handler and defender. Brown’s versatility allows him to fit into any lineup, making him a good fit in Dallas.
- Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M (15). Williams was in my preseason top 10, but has seen a dip in scoring, going from 12 PPG to 7 PPG. He was ineffective versus Arizona and USC, both of which teams that have highly touted big men. However, he is a raw talent with excellent physical tools. If he can show a reliable jumper in the pre-draft process, he will climb on boards.
- Gary Trent Jr, G, Duke (20). Trent had a hot start to the year, but his shot has not fallen much over the last month. If that can change in conference play, he will skyrocket up the boards. Trent is undersized and not a great athlete, but has combo guard potential. Stop me if you’ve heard that before. Trent meets many of the qualities that Carlisle prefers with his guards, which elevates him on this list.
- Anfernee Simons, G, None (Unranked). I’m hesitant to put him here, and did not rank him because it’s only speculated that he exploits the loophole to enter the draft from high school. However, his game is often compared to Markelle Fultz, but Simons may be a project. Expect his stock to drastically change as the draft approaches. Currently, Simons would be a little ahead of #20.
- Nick Richards, C, Kentucky (25). Richards is a very raw product still, but shows lots of potential on both ends of the ball thanks to great length and great athleticism.
- Chemezie Metu, PF/C, USC (22). Metu lacks great length for a big man with a sub 7’0 wingspan, but has a nice midrange game, is very quick and athletic for his position, and excels in the P&R. Metu is a late first round prospect, and the Mavericks could target him if he falls into the early second.
- Mustapha Heron, Wing, Auburn (30). Heron has been very good in his sophomore year, keeping most of his averages the same with less minutes, thus producing higher per 40 minutes stats. While his 3P% is 32%, his high FT% and nice release and follow-through project him to be a good shooter. Heron is a natural scorer and is also a good rebounder for a wing. Consistency in mechanics and refining his scoring off the dribble are essential for him. Auburn is off to a great start to start the season, and with a tournament run, Heron could see a boost in value. Heron isn’t on many radars right now, but I fully expect that to change when SEC play starts.
Missed the cut: Miles Bridges (14), Trevon Duval (16), Jalen Brunson (18), Mitchell Robinson (28).
These were 4 of the most notable names in my top 30 left off. Bridges was left off because I feel like he and Harrison Barnes have the most comparable play-styles of any prospect. Duval was left off because he has motor and attitude issues, and his jump shot is unreliable. Brunson is one of my favorite prospects, but he is likely only going to be able to play PG, so combo guards got a boost above him on fit. Lastly, Mitchell Robinson is left off because I believe big men suffer the most from mystery in the draft of any position. His off-court antics are also concerning.