Mavericks mock draft roundup: Which star big man could Dallas end up with?

The Mavericks will have a high lottery pick for the second straight year. Dallas won their lottery tiebreaker with Atlanta and have the third best odds in this year’s NBA draft. The Mavs are assured to pick no later than No. 6 overall.

Dallas selected Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 9 pick in last year’s draft and should get another talented prospect to pair with him in this draft.

Here’s a breakdown of where draft experts think the Mavs will pick in this year’s draft and who they might select.

Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid

HoopsHype’s Aran Smith, No. 5 overall pick (April 6): “Doncic is one of Europe’s top overall players, which is unheard of at 19 years of age. It’s no wonder why so many scouts in Europe feel that he should be considered for the first overall pick. And in a lot of drafts, he probably would be. His feel for the game is special for such a young player and he’s got a magical ability to find passing angles and make those around him better. He’s extremely competitive and clutch and never seems to get rattled or lose composure, even in the biggest moments. What he lacks in comparison to the other elite prospects is sheer athleticism. He’s not an overly quick or explosive athlete, so his ceiling isn’t quite as high as the others when you consider defense and ability to create and finish.”

The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre, No. 3 overall pick (March 8): “The hype machine will be in overdrive for months ahead of the draft, and it wouldn’t shock me if Doncic went 1st overall. The Mavericks have an awful roster, among the worst in the league. They’ll be right back here next year barring something lucky in free agency, but Doncic will contend for ROY and be the best scorer on the team.”

Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke

Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo, No. 3 overall pick (April 18): “After winning a tiebreaker with the Hawks, the Mavs have a 13.8% chance at the No. 1 pick and will be in position to address their need for a frontcourt mainstay regardless. With a major need up front, Dallas is looking hard at Bagley, whose offensive productivity, rebounding and athleticism were highly impressive at Duke. He has strides to make defensively and as a shooter and finisher, but Bagley is certainly an unfinished product with lots of room to grow. At some point his talent outweighs concerns over positional fit.”

Woo’s previous selection: Missouri F Michael Porter Jr. at No. 7.

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish, No. 3 overall pick (April 16): “The concern some have with Bagley is that his incredible production at the collegiate level was mostly the byproduct of superior athleticism and quickness when compared to literally everybody he ever played against — point being the 6-11 forward won’t be able to just physically overwhelm people in the NBA. Perhaps that’s true. But a consensus top-ranked high school player who averages 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds in one year of college for a great ACC team seems bust-proof to me. Honestly, I’d consider taking Bagley first overall. And I’ll never believe he should fall any further than No. 3.”

Parrish’s previous selection: Alabama G Collin Sexton at No. 7 overall.

Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, No. 3 overall (April 16): “If Marvin Bagley III hadn’t reclassified for the class of 2017, he’d be planning out his final weeks of high school right now. Instead, he’s surging toward the NBA draft with (ahead-of-schedule) freshman averages of 21.0 points on 61.4 percent shooting and 11.1 rebounds.

“He just turned 19 in March. During the same month, he also put 21 points and 15 rebounds on defending champion North Carolina, went for 33 points and 17 boards in an ACC tournament quarterfinal against Notre Dame and tallied 66 points on 72.2 percent shooting over his first three NCAA tournament outings.

“No freshman has done more in his freshman year than Marvin,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, per the Associated Press (via ESPN). “He’s broken every record, and he’s really represented us at the highest level. I’m proud of him because he came in late and he adapted at the highest level.”

“There might be questions about Bagley’s jump shooting and defensive ability, but he’s been a wrecking ball at every level so far. There’s value alone in his size, athleticism and energy, and he has the offensive ceiling of a focal point.

“That’s exactly what the Dallas Mavericks need for their post-Dirk Nowitzki future–assuming The Diggler does, in fact, walk away at some point. Bagley could be an ideal screening partner for Dennis Smith Jr., and if those two can handle the primary scoring roles, Harrison Barnes could dazzle as a high-level complementary option.”

Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, No. 5 overall pick (April 9): “With Nerlens Noel unlikely to be in Dallas’ long-term plans and Dirk Nowitzki turning 40 in June, the Mavs will definitely be looking for a frontcourt player to build around.

“Bamba’s rare combination of length, shot-blocking instincts and offensive promise gives him one of highest ceilings of any prospect in this draft. Every team in the NBA is looking for a big man who can anchor a defense.”

Givony’s previous selection: Duke C Wendell Carter at No. 6.

Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey, No. 3 overall pick (April 17): “The Dallas Mavericks could go a bunch of different directions here. Dennis Smith has plenty of potential as the team’s future point guard. Harrison Barnes, in spite of the advanced numbers’ disdain for him, still has some value as a young-ish combo forward who can score nearly 20 points a game.

“With Dirk Nowitzki nearing the end of his career and Nerlens Noel and Rick Carlisle seemingly at odds, inside may be where Dallas looks to round out its core.

“Marvin Bagley III is intriguing as a playmaking 5. Jaren Jackson may have the most defensive potential. But the pick here, for now, is Mohamed Bamba.

“As is the case with most bigs, Bamba still has plenty of work to do on the offensive end, but he’s already unbelievable on the other. Jackson is the only player to have played over 700 minutes with a sub-90 defensive rating and a higher block percentage than Bamba. The Texas center’s defensive rebounding percentage is nearly 10 points higher than Jackson’s and over five points better than his total rebounding percentage.

“And the best Mavericks teams over the last several years were ones that featured a defensive anchor in Tyson Chandler at the 5.”

Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman, No. 5 overall pick (April 3): “The Dallas Mavericks have been noncommittal with Nerlens Noel and could look at Mohamed Bamba to anchor their defense.

“Bamba has the potential to change a game with his length in the paint like Rudy Gobert, and he’d give Dennis Smith Jr. an enormous finishing target at the rim, where he shot 74.5 percent.

“At Texas, he flashed glimpses of an over-the-shoulder game and jump shot, but those are the skills he’ll have to improve, along with his body.

“Michael Porter Jr. will get consideration, but between the back surgery and poor performances after returning to Missouri, Dallas should feel more confident in Bamba’s unique defensive presence.”

Wasserman’s previous selection: Real Madrid G/F Luka Doncic at No. 1.

Fan Rag Sports’ Daniel O’Brien, No. 5 overall pick (March 30): “The Longhorns’ one-and-done center is a risk-reward commodity, especially on the offensive end. His possible range of outcomes is vast on that end. On defense, however, his floor is high and his ceiling is astronomical.

“He averaged 4.8 blocks and just 3.4 fouls per 40 minutes this season, and opponents scored just 89.7 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor. His mobility and long reach form a wall around the rim unlike any other prospect.

“The Mavericks will be targeting him high, but he shouldn’t be considered an immediate savior. He will need a couple of years of growing pains before he starts approaching his prime.”

O’Brien’s previous selection: Duke F Marvin Bagley III at No. 5.

UPROXX’s Brad Rowland, No. 5 overall pick (March 26): “Bamba’s defensive tools are ridiculous and everybody knows it. If anything, he remains underrated at this juncture as a result of playing on an underwhelming Texas team. Playing in Dallas could give him the chance to unlock some of his offensive potential as well. There is some risk here but nothing that the Mavs couldn’t rationalize.”

The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks, Kevin O’Connor and Danny Chau, No. 5 overall pick (March 2): “This is a conspiracy. Tjarks clearly selected Jackson with the fourth pick just so Bamba could fall to his hometown team. As an athletic lob threat and rim protector with a 9-foot-6 standing reach, Bamba is a perfect fit for Rick Carlisle’s offensive system. Dennis Smith repeatedly running high pick-and-rolls with Bamba would be pretty freaking invigorating. If Bamba’s perimeter shot translates, he could end up the best player in the draft.”

CBS Sports’ Reid Forgrave, No. 6 overall pick (March 22): “I believe every player in this mock draft, one through six, and maybe even later, would have been the top-rated player in last season’s draft. While the 2017 draft was marked by its depth, this draft is marked by its stacked top. Porter was my top pick in the preseason. The back surgery makes him too much of an injury risk to take over the handful of other guarantees in this draft, but Porter’s ceiling is high, high, high. Maybe not Kevin Durant, but Porter is a natural scorer. Think of him in the mold of Jayson Tatum, just a tick more talented, a tick bigger, a tick better of a scorer. You could even toss in a little bit of Dirk here. I’ve heard some people say that since Porter’s two-game return from back surgery in March was so disappointing, NBA general managers will knock him for it. That’s nonsense. Scouts have seen Porter’s dynamic offensive game for years; they’re not going to judge him poorly for two subpar collegiate games when he didn’t appear quite physically ready to return.”

Forgrave’s previous selection: Michigan State C Jaren Jackson Jr. at No. 7.

SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell, No. 3 overall pick (April 12): “Jackson didn’t put up gaudy stats like Ayton or Bagley, only averaging 11 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He wasn’t even on the floor much in Michigan State’s NCAA tournament loss to Syracuse (yes, that was a problem). He’s not a ready-made contributor yet, either, entering this draft as one of the youngest players in the class. Still: Jackson’s combination of shot blocking and three-point shooting is a perfect fit for the modern NBA. No other big man in this draft can match him in those two areas. For a patient team, Jackson could be a gem down the line.”

O’Donnell’s previous selection: Duke F Marvin Bagley III at No. 4.

Sporting News’ Chris Stone, No. 3 overall pick (April 18): “The Mavericks won a coin flip against the Hawks for the third spot on Friday. The two teams will split ping pong balls and have virtually equal lottery odds, but if things fall in line, it’ll be Dallas who selects first on draft night.

“Jackson is one of the youngest prospects in the 2018 draft class and his statistical profile — in part due to his age — is one of the most promising. The 18-year-old averaged 5.5 blocks per 40 minutes as a freshman while shooting 39.6 percent from behind the arc. He has legitimate unicorn potential. Turning him into a long-term ball screen partner with Dennis Smith Jr. would be a terrific move for a franchise looking to bring back its glory days.”

Stone’s previous selection: Texas C Mohamed Bamba at No. 5.

Yahoo Sports’ Jordan Schlutz, No. 5 overall pick (April 6): “The youth movement continues for the Mavs. Jackson, a 6-10 jumping jack, is an ideal complement to Dennis Smith Jr. because of his dexterity, quickness and ability to pick-and-pop. As a freshman, he connected on 40 percent of his threes, and his defensive flexibility is a huge plus for a Dallas team that lacks an identity.”

The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie, No. 4 overall pick (March 28): “Jackson was pretty awful in both of Michigan State’s NCAA Tournament games (by his lofty standards). He averaged four points, six rebounds and a block, and displayed some of the general weaknesses that give scouts pause when evaluating him. While his feel on the defensive end is quite strong, his offensive feel isn’t quite there yet. He struggles with double teams and turnovers, and isn’t a natural passer. Still, he’s the best defensive prospect in the class as a shot-blocking savant, he knocks down shots from distance with terrific touch and he’d fit nicely with Dallas as it transitions out of the Dirk Nowitzki era and into something new under Rick Carlisle.”

Vecenie’s previous selection: Real Madrid G/F Luka Doncic at No. 2.

NBADraft.net, No. 3 overall pick (April 12)

NBADraft.net’s previous selection: Real Madrid G/F Luka Doncic.

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