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Which Draft Prospect Makes the Most Sense for the Mavs?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Which Draft Prospect Makes the Most Sense for the Mavs?
    James Ham
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    The NBA Draft is Thursday, June 22 and the Dallas Mavericks need to make the most of it if they want to keep their brief struggles from turning into longer ones.

    In the draft, the Mavs lucked out - this is a loaded draft class, so the team won't miss out by landing a late lottery pick.

    If Mark Cuban wants to get back to winning as soon as the Dirk Nowitzki-era ends, then 'the process' starts now.

    The team needs to start adding young pieces to develop around their veterans, before they are gone, and the best way to groom the next face of the franchise is alongside the current one.

    The Mavs were not handed any gifts with the ninth overall pick - they finished with the ninth worst record in the league - but they can still find a quality player in the latter half of the lottery.

    Last season, along with the free agent-acquisition of now 24-year-old forward Harrison Barnes, Cuban acquired an elite defensive center in 23-year-old Nerlens Noel. That is a core you can build around, but adding a young guard would go a long way in solidifying the Mavericks future.

    With the team close to the salary cap ceiling of $94 million - not that it stops NBA owners from spending more - and not exactly in position to win now, the draft is a much better long-term solution than free agency. The team can acquire young talent without competing in a growing market, which saw players like Matthew Dellavedova receive a $38 million deal.

    While the big name guards - Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and De'Aaron Fox - will likely be gone before the Mavericks select a player, there will be quality to choose from.

    Specifically, most draft analysts consider Dennis Smith Jr. (NC State), Frank Ntilikina (France) and Malik Monk (Kentucky) a group of guard with tremendous upside.

    Since the Mavericks do not have any pressing roster holes, they can select a player they want, and one of these players should be available, according to most projections.

    The team was an average defensive team and a bottom-third offensive team, while playing at the league's second-slowest pace, so I think an offensive-minded guard is the move here - and that makes the selection obvious.

    The Mavs should spend the next week hoping Monk falls to them; if not, Dennis Smith Jr. is a fine consolation prize.

    Frank Ntilikina is a fine prospect with great size for the position, but his offensive game has major question marks. Unfortunately, for the Mavs, Ntilikina is the most likely of the three to be available.

    Malik Monk, who has question marks of his own, instantly helps the Mavericks space the floor with his NBA ready three-point shot and might be one of the best fits for the Mavs, regardless of position.

    Think of the former Kentucky star’s potential as an undersized Klay Thompson. He's an NBA-ready shooter that can catch fire at any moment; he's athletic enough to make up for the fact he's a small shooting guard; and many believe he can become an off-the-dribble scorer, in the NBA.

    He also gets the opportunity to sit behind Wesley Matthews, who is under contract for two more seasons.

    Worst-case scenario, Monk should develop into a better version of Wesley Matthews. Best-case, the Mavericks steal an elite sharp-shooter with athleticism, which is the formula behind Golden State's success.

    If Monk and Smith Jr. are both off the board, however, the Mavs may want to look at Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen (a player often compared to Dirk), or consider trading back. If the team can get a couple picks later in the draft, they may be able to turn one future role player into two.

    Either way, look for the team to seek out offense and athleticism to speed up one the league's slowest attacks.