2011 NBA Draft Preview: Dallas Mavericks, Who Will the NBA Champs Choose?
It is time to give the Dallas Mavericks their due. They are the reigning NBA Champions of the World. All the talk of LeBron James and the Miami Heat losing in the Finals is all but done. The Miami Heat did not lose in the Finals, the Mavericks won it.
Now that the Finals are done and over with, we can direct our attention to the next season—and with the next season, we focus on the NBA Draft. Dallas currently holds the 26th-pick of the draft and they definitely intend on using it. The average age of the Mavs is 29.6 years of age. Case and point: They need to get younger.
Las Vegas has already put four other teams ahead of Dallas to win the NBA Championship next season. No one expected them to win this year and no one is expecting them to win next season. Jason Kidd is pushing 40, an injured Caron Butler will be 32 next season, and Shawn Marion, Peja Stojakovic and Jason Terry are all over 33 years of age.
Long story short: The Mavs are old, and only getting older—meaning Dirk is getting older, too. This draft should be meant to find Dirk an understudy who he can groom and give breathers to.
Here are some options to get younger for Dirk and the Mavs going forward as NBA Champs.
Justin Harper: Richmond
The biggest need for the Mavericks would have to be a young, productive player to play behind Dirk Nowitzki.
J.J. Barea will surely be re-signed and Jason Kidd has already expressed the fact that he wants to play for at least two more years. The frontcourt is solid with Tyson Chandler and Heyward and the depth on the wings is terrific.
That means the power forward position is of the utmost importance.
Dirk totals a lot of minutes on the floor, and for good reason, but seasons are long and he is getting older. With the 26th-pick, the Mavs' best option would be to select power forward Justin Harper.
At 6'9" and 230 pounds, Harper is a tremendous shooter. However, he does not have a true, pure position guarding the 4-spot at the NBA level, and he cannot keep up with the quicker, speedier number three's. However, he did shoot a stunning 49 percent from the three-point line in his final season at Richmond.
His post-moves are already above what they should be; if this is the Mavericks' pick, then Dirk will have no problem taking him under his wing. Being able to watch Dirk on a night in-night out basis will prove to do wonders for this 21 year old.
Trey Thompkins: Georgia
The next best bet for the Mavericks would be Georgia power forward, Trey Thompkins. Thompkins, 6'10", 240 pounds, is a tremendous shooter and a physical powerhouse. Thompkins is very polished in the high-post area and can shoot from downtown.
Not very athletic or quick, Thompkins is going to struggle since he will be unable to keep up with many of the power forwards in the NBA. His basketball IQ is very high and he has tremendous court presence, but his defensive game will need some work.
Once he is able to get his feet set, he will be an intimidating figure. That will not happen often, however, as his footwork is a little poor. But, again, his offensive game is one of the tops coming out of the college ranks.
JaJuan Johnson: Purdue
JaJuan Johnson is one of the most polished power forward shooters coming out of this draft. Measuring in at 6'10", 220 pounds, Johnson is another prototypical player that could come off the bench and give Dirk a breather during the season.
Averaging 20 points, over eight rebounds and two blocks per game last season for Purdue, Johnson led the Big 10 in scoring this past year. Each year, Johnson has gotten incrementally better during his time at Purdue.
Johnson will have to gain some serious bulk to get to the next level. A rather lanky player, Johnson has a tremendous high-post game.
Johnson is tremendous on the defensive side of the ball. His length allows him to post up with any power forward, but, again, his strength is at a disadvantage.
He will not be able to assume the role of scorer like Dirk; he will prove himself as a role player, rather than the go-to guy.
No one in this draft will ever be able to fill Dirk's shoes, but if Dirk lends them a pair, they may at least be able to learn and become better all-around players on a championship team.