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Thursday, June 24, 2010
Mavs seek first-round French Connection?

By Jeff Caplan

If the Dallas Mavericks are serious about trading into the first round, could it be they're having visions of a French Connection?

With Roddy Beaubois already nestled deep in the hearts of Mavs fans, imagine the lightning-quick guard tossing lobs to his 6-foot-10 countryman Kevin Seraphin. The 260-pound power forward/center is tantalizingly athletic. He runs the floor, rebounds, block shots and loves to operate in the paint.

A league source said the Mavs are big "fans" of Seraphin, who is projected to be selected in the first round, likely in the low 20s.

Currently, the Mavs hold the 50th overall pick and appear set to head into tonight's draft holding onto that pick. Vice president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said the club will look for ways to move up if a situation presents itself.

Seraphin has a similar story to Hakeem Olajuwon in that the native of French Guiana, a colony on the northern coast of South America, didn't start playing basketball until age 15 after growing up on soccer. However, Seraphin didn't hone his basketball skills for four years at an American university like the Nigerian-born Olajuwon.

Seraphin, 20, did work his way up to the top team in France. He averaged 6.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in 15.6 minutes this past season, not exactly numbers that jump off the page. No doubt, he's offensively raw for the NBA, but it doesn't diminish him as an extremely intriguing big man.

In two consecutive drafts, the French have produced. Portland scored big with Nicolas Batum, the 25th pick in 2008. Of course, the Mavs love last year's rookie Beaubois, who was taken 25th overall by Oklahoma City and then dealt to Dallas.

What else do Batum, Beaubois and Seraphin all share? Senagalese-born agent Bouna N'diaye, who has connections to former Mavs director of player personnel and VP of international affairs Gallo Fall (Fall now heads the NBA's first office in Africa, located in Johannesburg, South Africa).

As of Wednesday night, at least two respected mock drafts had Seraphin going 22nd to the Blazers. Could the Mavs get to No. 21 and intercept Seraphin? The Oklahoma City Thunder, who traded Beaubois to the Mavs for B.J. Mullens a year ago, now hold three first-round picks and four overall -- the 18th, 21st, 26th and 51st. Boston is also reportedly shopping the 19th pick.

The Mavs' center situation is in flux. Brendan Haywood could be lost in free agency (possibly via sign-and-trade) and Erick Dampier, if he returns, was is in the twilight of his career and was never a scoring threat.

What Dirk Nowitzki needs most --outside of LeBron James or Dwyane Wade (and the hope is Beaubois will emerge as the creative slasher and scorer the Mavs desire) -- is a low-post scoring threat. Nowitzki has never played with an offensive-minded center and James Donaldson remains the franchise's all-time best center.

Other big men that could be available in the low 20s:
*Solomon Alabi, 7-1, C, Florida State
*Craig Brackins, 6-10, PF, Iowa State
*Larry Sanders, 6-11, PF, Virginia Commonwealth
*Hassan Whiteside, 7-0, C, Marshall
*Daniel Orton, 6-10, C, Kentucky