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Monday, June 9, 2014
Draft talk: Revisiting the Mavs' recent past

By Bryan Gutierrez

ESPNDallas.com will examine the upcoming NBA draft through the perspective of the Dallas Mavericks this week.

Dallas will have picks Nos. 34 and 51 in the NBA draft, both in the second round. That means the odds of them finding rotation players aren’t incredibly strong. That would mean that another year could come and go leaving the Mavs without much to show in the draft.

Crowder
Crowder, a second-rounder in 2012, is one of the few draft investments to bring a return to the Mavericks recently.
History has yet to shine an extremely favorable light toward the Mavs in regard to their draft results. Some would say that’s the price you pay when you’re a team that is heavily dependent on veteran leadership. The other angle: They've been forced to be built that way because their draft results haven’t been strong.

The Mavs have certainly sacrificed as they mortgaged their future back in 2008 for the reacquisition of Jason Kidd from the Nets. There were four players traded from Dallas, five if you count the contract of Keith Van Horn, in order to bring Kidd back to Dallas. Just as important, the Mavs traded away two first-round picks (2008 and 2010) for Kidd. That gamble ultimately proved to pay off as Dallas won its first NBA championship in 2011. Since that trade, the Mavs have seen the likes of Shan Foster, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones, Jared Cunningham and others come into the fold. Some of them brought hype, hope and promise. All of them brought disappointment.

While Dallas has spent most of its time hovering in the bottom third of the first round of the draft -- or exclusively in the second round, as they are this season -- most use the San Antonio Spurs as the standard for success through the draft. It would be foolish not to do so, considering the fact that they found Manu Ginobili, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola and DeJuan Blair in the second round of the draft, as well as Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter, George Hill and Ian Mahinmi at the very back end of the first round.

While they’ve hit quite a few times and are the standard, they are still an outlier based on historical results. History has shown that it’s still a 50-50 proposition you’ll find a prospect who can turn into a five-year rotation player in the league once you get in the later portion of the first round, even lower once you get into the second round. The fact that San Antonio found two Hall of Fame players in Parker and Ginobili shows there is supreme scouting but also some luck that worked in its favor.

Jae Crowder, who came via the second round of the 2012 draft, appears to be the Mavs' best pick in recent draft history. He’s established himself as a rotation player over the two seasons he’s been in the league. He’s 252 points away from 1,000 for his career. In the big picture, that really doesn’t mean much, but it does when there’s some historical context put alongside it. Since 2005, there are only two players who have been able to score at least 1,000 points for Dallas that came via the draft: Beaubois (2010) and Devin Harris (2005).

Owner Mark Cuban has been fond of the term "corporate knowledge" when it comes to business and basketball. In basketball, it’s data that is compiled and can be used to facilitate improvement for his roster. The level of competition in the NCAA is strong, but it does offer quite a bit of diluted data along with it. History has shown there are more busts than booms that come via the draft. Maybe that fact has steered him away and put more of an emphasis on those who have proved what they can do at the NBA level.

This line of thinking could hold some weight in regard to how Dallas handles its business. There is a fine line, though, in relying on veteran players. They’re essential to teams that do well in the playoffs, but there will always be a tipping point at which you might veer into the "old" category.

Players such as Crowder and Shane Larkin could prove the tide is turning within the organization. Time will ultimately tell in that regard. While it’s a long shot to come away from this month’s draft with a surefire rotation player, the time is eventually going to come when the misses will have to make way for hits.