Mavs fans have asked all kinds of speculative questions regarding the NBA Draft, including “What would the Mavs have to give up in trade to get De’Aaron Fox at #3 or #4?” Or “Who would you rather have: Jonathan Isaac or Dennis Smith Jr?”
But hold up. Let’s not get carried away. What you REALLY want to know is this: Which players will realistically be there at #9 and who would Dallas pick?
Players Most Likely Available at #9
Dennis Smith Jr.
Despite the fact that we’ve spent weeks talking about Frank Ntilikina, it looks probable if not guaranteed that Phil Jackson takes Frank with the 8th pick of the draft, leaving Dallas without their favorite 9th pick prospect. So Dallas has a couple options: Trade up in the draft to get Frank or take what’s left at #9.
Let’s look at each of the guys that might be available.
Malik Monk is a quality scoring guard. He grew up playing point, but Kentucky asked him to switch over to shooting guard, which he did and did well. The combination of Fox and Monk in the backcourt propelled the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament Championship.
The obvious knocks on Monk are that he’s short for a shooting guard, and his defense isn’t awesome. So he’s a hybrid version of Jason Terry, though probably more athletic.
Dennis Smith Jr.
Dennis is an athletic freak of nature. Think Russell Westbrook or early Dwayne Wade. Plenty of teams might take DSJ before #9, but there’s reason to think that they won’t. His biggest drawbacks are attitude, lack of consistent high energy output, and defense. With the failure that was the Rondo experiment, I understand why Dallas is reluctant to go that’s route.
Zach will almost certainly be available at #9, but he’s not a top need for Dallas. However, you couldn’t really fault Dallas for taking him either, because Noel has injury history and Dallas needs a solid front court.
Lauri is the one Top 10 player everyone pretty much agrees should NOT be drafted by the Mavs. Avoid the horrific comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki for the next five years, please. He may become a very solid NBA player. I’m not doubting him. I just don’t want a Dirk replacement. Dallas needs fresh blood and new direction and Lauri is too similar without being as good as Dirk.
Assuming these four are the best of the rest, Dallas definitely goes Dennis Smith Jr. He fills a need, has extreme talent, and MIGHT become an All-Star talent. His attitude might be a risk, but a rookie under Carlisle should be more trainable than an established veteran like Rondo.