NBA Draft 2012: Ranking the Top 5 Prospects the Dallas Mavericks Should Select
The Dallas Mavericks are at a crossroads and in pursuit of a new squad to provide Dirk Nowitzki a run at championship number two. The NBA Draft should be their outlet to get younger, faster and more athletic both on the perimeter and in the post.
Dallas has the No. 17 overall selection, as well as No. 55 in the second round as a result of the Lamar Odom trade.
With two draft picks, the Mavs have a chance to follow the model of the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder by getting younger and more talented in the draft without spending huge dollar amounts on overpriced free agents.
Here are the top five draft prospects that fill the glaring needs the Mavericks have to fill this offseason.
5. Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State PF/C
Moultrie (left) is the kind of athletic big man that can go toe-to-toe with NBA power forwards and centers
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Moultrie is a combo forward from Mississippi State who is as consistent of a first-round talent as you will find in this year's draft. The former UTEP athlete transferred to the Bulldogs after his sophomore season and proceeded to average a double-double (16.4 PPG and 10.5 RPG) this season.
Since Dallas already has a solid combo player in Brandan Wright, selecting Moultrie might be a little redundant as a draft pick. But as a 22-year-old, he outweighs Wright by 40 pounds, giving folks reason to believe he could add weight to play center against the bigger 300-pounders.
There's also Brendan Haywood, free agent Ian Mahinmi and some guy named Dirk Nowitzki in the front court, so adding a guy like Moultrie might not be the way to go. But skilled big men are hard to find, and Dallas is looking for someone to take over for Nowitzki in the coming years.
Dallas had Moultrie in for a workout earlier this week, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld, and time will tell if they liked his skill set enough to select him with the 17th pick.
4. Fab Melo, Syracuse C
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After struggling to find a niche in coach Jim Boeheim's scheme as a freshman, Melo emerged as one of the best defensive players on the best team in the Big East.
His wide frame, hustle and rebounding allowed Syracuse to successfully run their version of the 2-3 zone and run it well. His suspension for the NCAA tournament isn't an excuse for 'Cuse's exit in the Elite Eight to Ohio State, but fans will always wonder about the result had he been in the game where the Orange struggled to stop fellow prospect Jared Sullinger and keep the Buckeyes off the glass.
The seven-footer averaged close to eight points and six rebounds per game in his 30 appearances and also averaged an impressive 2.9 blocks per contest. His height, knowledge of the 2-3 zone—a Rick Carlisle favorite—and youth could make him an attractive option at No. 17.
While it might be a bit of a stretch if you look at draft boards, finding a center of the future shouldn't be taken lightly, even if it means sacrificing a few slots to get a guy like Melo.
If his academic and personal issues at Syracuse are put aside, he could be a very solid defensive center for a long time in the NBA, as noted by his Big East Defensive Player of the Year award this season.
3. Moe Harkless, St. Johns SF/PF
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The 6'8" freshman forward and Queens, New York, native is a very raw, yet intriguing talent. His skills are suited to both be a defensive stopper and offensive weapon in the NBA, but he will need some time to develop.
Do the Mavericks have time to let a young talent develop? It isn't Carlisle's priority as seen with guys like Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones, but getting younger and having more perimeter athleticism is the name of the game in Dallas.
Harkless is a raw talent offensively, but still possesses the ability to get to the basket and the foul line when he needs to. He only shot 44 percent from the field, which won't translate well unless he works on getting a more consistent jump shot.
But having another perimeter defender that can get to the basket and defend multiple possessions would have been huge against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the postseason.
He's slated to be available right around the range in which the Mavericks will select, so it's likely they will bring him in for a workout in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on him moving forward if you're a Dallas fan.
2. Quincy Miller, Baylor SF/PF
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The Baylor freshman forward had a standout season as Perry Jones III's sidekick, averaging 10.4 points on 44 percent shooting. His 6'9" frame is enticing to professional scouts, but his 210 pound body isn't strong enough to satisfy those who are looking for him to be a force in the post.
He has the ability to create his own shot, knock down the three-pointer and guard both 3s and 4s, which is ever so valuable in today's NBA versatility game.
There are concerns about the Chicago native's ACL surgery, which cost him the majority of his senior year in high school. Still, he was able to come back and play 30+ games for the Bears, although his production slipped mightily in the NCAA tournament maybe due to some fatigue of a full collegiate season.
It will be imperative that Miller add weight and add to his growing offensive game to keep up with the stronger, fast-paced NBA game. He'd be a great fit in Dallas as a perimeter defender and sub to Dirk Nowitzki.
1. Jeremy Lamb, UConn SG/SF
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As it is, Dallas doesn't seem to have a prayer of Jeremy Lamb falling to No. 17. He's widely considered a lottery prospect and with his physical tools (6'5", athletic, three-point marksman, solid defender, length) he should be.
But Dallas might have the trade assets to move up and nab Lamb somewhere between No's 8-14. With the No. 17 pick, the No. 55 pick, Beaubois, Jones, the rights to guards Nick Calathes and Petteri Koponen and other buyer-friendly contracts like Lamar Odom and Vince Carter, Dallas could make a move.
Why not? Lamb is exactly the kind of player Dirk Nowitzki was referencing in his exit interview to the Dallas Morning News after the series loss to OKC. Dallas needs some guys not wearing No. 41 that can do something with the ball on their own.
Many though Beaubois would be that guy. Some said Jones. Delonte West showed flashes of it, but finding a young guy like Lamb to build around, that won't cost much, could help alleviate some of the current cap issues while also bringing in talent that is NBA ready.
It's a long shot, but landing a guy like Lamb would add an immediate starter at the 2-guard, take some pressure off of Dirk Nowitzki to do it all and maybe even prove to a certain Dallas native (Deron Williams) that the Mavericks have both the cap space and basketball smarts he needs to win a championship.