The Dallas Mavericks are in a crucial position in the 2009 NBA Draft. The draft and ensuing offseason would have been much easier had the Mavs missed the playoffs, or had another nonchalant first round exit.
An inspired finish which led to the Mavs advancing to the second for the first time since 2006 allowed for even more questions going into the draft and ensuing offseason.
The biggest key to the offseason is Jason Kidd. Whether he stays for two years or signs with a contender (Cleveland) should be the main determinant in who the Mavs draft. Looking at the Mavs draft picks in the millenium era, only one player, Josh Howard, is still with the team.
While the Mavs didn't have any draft picks aside from Dirk key their rise in the early part of the milenium, circumstances now should force the Mavs to draft someone who will be a cornerstone for years to come.
With that in mind, the two biggest needs for the Mavs going into the draft are a big, fast point guard, and a mobile center since Ryan Hollins is not the answer and Eric Dampier is on his last legs. Just by looking at the series against Denver, the Mavs need to get more athletic, and if Brandon Bass goes elsewhere that need will be highlighted even more.
Before getting to any trade scenarios, I think the players most likely to be available that fit the team's needs will be: Ty Lawson (UNC), Terrance Williams (Louisville), Sam Young (Pittsburgh), Darren Collison (UCLA), Eric Maynor (VCU) Jeff Teague (Wake Forest) and possibly Jrue Holliday (UCLA). All are point guards except for Young, with Holliday a tweener between the point and shooting guard.
Should Kidd leave, it'd be necessary for the Mavs to draft a floor general who can lead immediately. Nothing against J.J. Barea, but he doesn't have the skills necessary to play an effective point on an NBA team. This floor general also needs to possess speed, since the West is ruled by quick, speedy point guards. My pick would be Maynor.
While small, Maynor is quick and has a knack for how the offense flows. Although one of his weaknesses is that he tried to make too many plays, he will learn from day one that the offense flows through Nowitzki, Terry, and Howard, which will allow him to focus on being a better point guard.
The Mavs need character guys as well, and scouts have been high on Maynor's character. He's a four year guy who can step in immediately and contribute.
Should Kidd stay, an ideal situation for the Mavs would be for Jrue Holliday to drop to them at 22. I've seen reports of him going anywhere from 9-20, so it would take a real miracle for him to drop.
Kidd would be the perfect mentor for a guy whose athletic, but needs to better himself in overall point guard skills. Holliday is tall (6'4) and could add about fifteen more pounds to help him in the league.
While Collison and Lawson could be decent choices, neither has the size nor other attributes the Mavs need in a point guard draft choice.
The one person the Mavs should avoid is Jeff Teague.While he is a great athlete who is expected to go in the top 15 picks, he might fall due to character issues. The Mavs don't need another kid from Wake Forest with character issues and questionable focus.
Back in 2004, the Mavs were able to move up into the number five pick and select Devin Harris, who turned out to be an excellent choice. They could do the same this year and possibly package Howard, Stackhouse, and someone else to Sacramento or Minnesota for the chance to select either Tyreke Evans or Stephen Curry.
If the basketball gods are truly on the Mavericks side, they could move all the way up and select Ricky Rubio, but that's highly unlikely.
If the Mavs go ahead and select a point guard like I think they're going to do, that will set the stage for them to go after a Raymond Felton-type player in free agency. There's also rumors regarding Vince Carter and Michael Redd having an interest in Dallas but that remains to be seen.
As stated before, the key for the Mavs this draft and this offseason is to get younger, because the window on this current core to be a contender is closing.