First in a nine-part series analyzing our top NBA draft choices for the Dallas Mavericks at No. 17 on June 28. We will look at one prospect a day leading up to the draft. ESPN.com Insider Chad Ford and ESPN Dallas' and Mavs play-by-play man Chuck Cooperstein provide the inside goods. The order is alphabetical.
Not since the Mavericks selected Etan Thomas with the No. 12 pick in 2000 has the franchise been set to select this high in the draft. It's not the lottery, but at No. 17 and in what is widely characterized as a deep draft, Dallas is in the rare position to acquire a young player at any position and one with potential to earn a rotation spot next season.
Of course, the front office pair of Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson are always active, and a deal that could take them out of the No. 17 position is never out of the question. Just a year ago, they drafted Jordan Hamilton out of Texas, but did so with a three-team trade in the works that pushed Hamilton to Portland and then on to Denver while the Mavs acquired Rudy Fernandez from the Blazers.
OK, so maybe that 0ne didn't work out so well. Still, the possibility to sit still or wheel-and-deal for an established player are just two options available for the creative Dallas brain trust as it takes the first step into what promises to be a very busy and intriguing summer of change.
"We’ll still wait and see how things shake out," Nelson said following the end of the Mavs' season at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder last month. "We’ve got a first and a second (No. 55). It’s a fairly deep draft so we’re hopeful, but we’ll be active as usual. Whether we decide to draft or package or however, I don’t know. But we think we’re going to get a player there."
With that, let's take a look at our first top prospect:
School: Kentucky (2 years)
2011-12 stats: 12.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg
Why he would fit: The Mavs desperately need some muscle off the bench at the power forward position to defend and rebound. They got away without such a presence in 2011 and still won the title. But when Tyson Chandler left and Lamar Odom flaked, Dallas was painfully weak on the front line. Dallas loves versatile players and needs to become more athletic at every position, and Jones, who can also provide some offensive punch, would definitely fill the job in those two areas.
Why he wouldn't fit: Detractors wonder about his off-and-on energy level and pouting when things don't go his way, although a focused NCAA tournament certainly helped his cause. Those aren't qualities that will mesh well with no-nonsense coach Rick Carlisle, who won't stand for such antics and has no qualms of keeping a youngster strapped to the bench.
Chad Ford's thumbs up, thumbs down: Up -- Versatile, athletic wing. ... Huge 7-foot-2 1/4 wingspan. ... Can play three to four positions on the floor. ... Lefty is a terrific ball-handler. ... Is an excellent passer. ... Can score from anywhere on the floor. ... Much improved rebounder. Down -- Some mechanics issues with his shot. ... Needs to spend more time in the post. ... Can fall in love with the 3-pointer. ... Demonstrates poor body language. ... Inconsistent motor.
Coop's comment: Jones measured 6-foot-9 1/2 at the combine and he weighs about 250, so all of this talk about him not having a position really should be moot -- he’s a power forward with a pretty good handle and a good rebounder. He's a good shooter out to about 18 feet. Kentucky watchers say he was not a very good teammate as a freshman, but as a sophomore became much better in that area. Yes, the Mavericks have Dirk Nowitzki at power forward, but they do need someone to back him up now and maybe someone who can take over the position when he’s had enough.