Previewing the Mavs’ 2020 Draft Outlook

Dallas Mavericks Content

The Mavericks own their 2020 first round pick heading into the 2019-20 season after surrendering the pick in the 2019 draft to Atlanta. While it was painful to see the two teams with equal odds as Dallas jump into the top 2 of the lottery, it’s not all dark for the Mavericks. Sure, the Mavs are highly unlikely to draft someone in the same tier as Zion Williamson or Ja Morant, but that doesn’t mean their 2020 pick can’t be successful. While I believe that the draft is still too far away to make anything more than an educated guess for most of the players or the class as a whole, we do have some clues about what to watch for the upcoming international ad collegiate seasons. 

The first area we know about as a whole is the lead guard spot. Headlined by Cole Anthony and Anthony Edwards with several other primary playmakers, including international stars Deni Avdija, RJ Hampton, and Theo Maledon. The common factor all these likely lottery picks have in common is size. I’ve been a fan of big guards that can be high level playmakers as a key part of the future of the position, which is partially why I was ecstatic about the Delon Wright signing. 

However, many, if not all, of those names are unlikely to be available when Dallas picks, based on current projections. The only way the Mavs can likely be in play for most of these players is if either the Mavs or prospects fail to meet expectations. If the Mavs flirt with the 8 seed, expect them to be picking close to 17, give or take. Instead of discussing top end prospects that the Mavs have little chance at, I’ll instead talk about a few prospects that I think can be realistically had by the Mavs; either with their first round pick, or one of the two second round picks they own:

  1. Tyrese Maxey, PG, Kentucky- if you remember my article I did last year for Mavs MoneyBall highlighting the high school talent in DFW, Tyrese Maxey was at the center of my focus, along with RJ Hampton. Maxey would likely be a top 3 PG in any other year, but with the elite depth at the top, he gets pushed back some. Maxey’s game reminds me of Collin Sexton in play style, with better playmaking ability. His biggest question mark, like Sexton coming out of Alabama, is his jump shot consistency. I have seen Maxey in person, and his ability to get to the rim at ease is going to be his best trait. 
  2. Jordan Nwora, Wing, Louisville- Nwora returned to school for his senior year after not getting a first round promise for the 2019 first round. However, this doesn’t mean he can’t sneak into the first round in 2020, although that would be quite an optimistic outlook. Nwora has an unconventional jump shot, but has NBA range on his shot when catching & shooting, moves well on defense, has good size, and can be a playmaker as well. His range could be anywhere from the 20s to 40, but should be considered a high floor senior.
  3. Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas- Joe is about as textbook of a pure shooter as there is in the country. While he didn’t have great playmaking stats as a freshman, his usage should increase on an Arkansas team where he is likely the best NBA talent now that Dan Gafford is in the NBA. Joe could potentially sneak into the first round with a more well-rounded statline as a sophomore, but should be seen more as a target with one of the two second round picks.
  4. Josiah-Jordan James, G, Tennessee- yet another big point guard, James has gone a bit under the radar this summer, but could see a big rise on draft boards come conference play. He has ideal size at 6’6 that plays well in a fast tempo and should be a plus defender. His jump shot will play a large role in his draft stock.
  5. Ochai Agjabi, Wing, Kansas- Agjabi came out of nowhere in the middle of the 2019 season – almost literally. He was being redshirted as a freshman, but undid the redshirt to become immediately active. He’s an athlete freak with good size that plays best in transition, and is a capable defender. However, he needs to improve his jump shot in order to be taken more seriously as a prospect, otherwise he could be looking at a similar fate of KZ Okpala in the 2019 draft. 

While these are only 5 names in a pool of over 100 likely prospects, the 2020 draft is going to be deep, thanks to a strong freshman class plus many players returning to school after foregoing the 2019 draft. College basketball begins in the first week of November, which will immediately feature top prospect matchups.

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