NBA Draft 2012: Best Fit at Each Position for the Dallas Mavericks
It's safe to say that the 2011-12 Dallas Mavericks were not the same team that they had been the year before. Old age, key departures and underachieving acquisitions haunted the team from the get-go.
Veteran leaders Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Brendan Haywood are all likely on their way out, as Mark Cuban and his team look to pretty much clean house this offseason.
With the former champions looking to rebuild and get younger, where better to start than a talent rich 2012 NBA draft class?
Here's a look at the best fits at each spot on the floor for the Mavericks at the 17th overall selection in the upcoming draft.
Point Guard: Marquis Teague, Kentucky
With the newfound cap space that Dallas is likely to soon obtain, All-Star point guard Deron Williams of the Nets seems to be the team's main goal once free agency time comes around.
If a deal for Williams doesn't end up working out, many Dallas fans would also like to see the former MVP Steve Nash return to the team. Despite his age, Nash has proven that he can still ball with the best. Also, he and Dirk Nowitzki are still close friends to this day, so the duo could potentially still work wonders together.
This year's draft definitely has its share of talented floor generals though, highlighted by Austin Rivers, Kendall Marshall and Marquis Teague, younger brother of Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague.
Rivers will most likely be off the board early, and Marshall comes with the feared "injury-prone" tag, leaving Teague the default choice for Dallas if they choose to go with a point man.
The starting point guard for the NCAA champion Kentucky Wildcats, Teague averaged 10 points and five assists per game. He plays a style similar to former Dallas point guard Devin Harris, in that he uses his quickness and explosiveness to attack the basket as his main way of scoring. He won't take too many threes, but he was one of Kentucky's best perimeter defenders.
If Teague ends up being selected by the Mavericks, I highly doubt he would be looked to as a starting option. However he can definitely bring a spark off of the bench, and will be more than capable of setting up Dirk Nowitzki to make plays.
It also doesn't hurt that Teague was the point man of the 2011-12 national championship team. If the new-look Mavericks were to pick him up and make a run to the NBA playoffs, he'd play like he'd been there before.
Shooting Guard: Doron Lamb, Kentucky
With veteran 2-guards Vince Carter and Jason Terry soon to be on the move, shooting guard is one of Dallas' biggest needs this offseason.
They're in luck, as shooting guard is arguably the most talent-rich position in this draft.
As much as Dallas fans like them, Roddy Beaubois and Domonique Jones just aren't good long-term options for the team at this position. Too long have the Mavericks used short, quick, point guard-like players at this spot. It's about time they picked up somebody who can actually match up with the taller Kobe Bryants and James Hardens of the Western Conference.
The best scenario for Dallas would be if UConn wingman Jeremy Lamb were to still be on the board at number 17, but unless they decide to trade up to get him, that would be nearly impossible.
Florida's Bradley Beal and Syracuse's Dion Waters will also be off of the board by pick 17, leaving Teague's Kentucky teammate Doron Lamb as the best option.
At 6'4'', Lamb would do a significantly better job on defense than Beaubois or Jones. He shot 47.5 percent from three during his time at UK, so it's easy to see how he could one day be another Jason Terry.
He also has excellent ball handling skills, turning the ball over just 1.2 times per game in his college career.
Lamb is a graduate of Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, a high school well-known for producing great NBA talents such as Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Jennings, among others.
Small Forward: Royce White, Iowa State
I had the pleasure of watching Royce White in a game against a talented Missouri team last season, and it was safe to say that he was still the best player on the court that day.
At 6'7'', 261 lbs, White is pretty darn strong for a small forward. His size, strength and ability to post up and score off of the low block made him a dominant scorer against other wings in college.
If the Mavericks were to pick him with their first-round pick, they'd be getting a player very similar to Shawn Marion, with an even better post game. White would even be able to come in off of the bench in relief of Nowitzki at power forward at times.
The only player worth even noting from Iowa State last season, White has shown outstanding leadership capabilities, and his hustle and drive to win were simply awe-inspiring. I know this is the type of player who won't take anything for granted in the NBA and will work towards whatever he earns.
He pulled in 9.3 rebounds per game at Iowa State, proving that he's an outstanding rebounder for his height. He always knows where he needs to be down low, and attacks the glass at every chance.
His biggest weakness is without a doubt his free-throw shooting. He only shot around 50 percent from the stripe in college. Hopefully he can improve somewhat at least in that area upon his arrival to the league.
Power Forward: Perry Jones III, Baylor
Even though it's a heartbreaking thought, Dirk Nowitzki will be gone in the somewhat near future. He's been the face of the organization for over a decade, yet all good things must eventually come to an end.
For the Mavericks, Dirk's unique style of play may be impossible to completely replace. But in a draft stocked full of good big men, they could potentially begin to groom his successor underneath him.
With Anthony Davis, Jared Sullinger and Thomas Robinson all predicted to go in the top 10, I could see Dallas going with either Perry Jones III or Tyler Zeller of North Carolina.
Jones would be the more likely scenario, as he has a bit more upside and potential than Zeller, who many see as an NBA center.
Jones shot above 50 percent from the field at Baylor, showing that he does a good job picking good shots, a necessary trait for NBA big men. Like Nowitzki, Jones will be able to stretch defenses with a good-looking mid-range shot as well.
Blessed with outstanding athleticism, Jones runs the floor very well for someone with his 6'11'' frame. In fact, he can even play small forward at times if needed to do so. His length and athleticism make him an outstanding defender both down low and on the perimeter.
It would also be quite the popular pick for Dallas, as I'm sure the Mavs and Baylor Bears share plenty of mutual fans.
He may not be Dirk Nowitzki, but by the time Dirk retires, Jones could potentially be a force to reckon with in the NBA.
Center: Fab Melo, Syracuse
Although Fab Melo struggled staying on the court last year at Syracuse, he made a huge difference for Jim Boeheim's team whenever he did. Orange fans will always wonder what could have happened had Melo played against Jared Sullinger and Ohio State in the game that sent Boeheim's team packing.
An outstanding rebounder and shot-blocker, Melo could potentially be a great defensive center in the NBA. Melo's size, rebounding and athleticism were some of the reasons why Syracuse's 2-3 zone defense was so successful all year.
Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks love to run that same defense, so his transition could be relatively smooth if he ended up in Big D.
Of course it's always a little bit risky selecting a center in the first round, but the Mavericks are certainly desperate for a new big man down low. Defensively at least, Melo is a pretty safe bet, as he was the Big East defensive player of the year despite missing all of those games due to academic issues.
He's not the greatest center in terms of scoring, but then again neither was Tyson Chandler.
Melo would also be a popular selection in Dallas, as his Brazilian heritage could be intriguing to Latin American Mavericks fans.