2023 NBA Draft: The layman’s guide to 3 potential Mavericks prospects

When you’re running a Mavericks blog and podcast, it’s hard to find time to do everything. It’s hard enough to find the time to manage, edit and create content during an 82-game regular season, but then tackle college scouting? Looking at draft prospects? Forget it! That’s why here at Mavs Moneyball, I mostly stay out of our draft coverage, as we have a team of experts who take the time to watch film, watch college games, and dish out well-informed analysis on what could be 19, 20 year old mystery boxes.

However, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to have opinions. I just wanted to clarify that these statements are not very valuable. They’re based on my own readings from our own staff of experts, other draft analysts, and good old-fashioned, never-taken-out-of-context YouTube highlights. There are three players I’ve fallen in love with in this draft who have a chance to be available at 10. If the Mavericks ended up with any of these guys, I wouldn’t have any complaints. Here are my thoughts.

Taylor Hendricks

Hendricks is a YouTube Hall of Famer in terms of desirable Mavericks draft prospects. Dallas has been desperate for skilled, big, athletic forwards since the Mesozoic Era, and Hendricks is all that. He’s not a playmaker, but he can put the ball on the floor a bit and score, and when the roster already has Luka Doncic and (presumably) Kyrie Irving, the Mavericks don’t necessarily need more playmakers, just guys who can attack finishes. Hendricks might not be that guy day one, but he’ll be a threat with room to grow into that role with all the space Doncic and Kyrie will create.

The theme of these three guys is certainly elite athleticism and size, but it’s also skill. Hendricks is not stiff. He’s not a guy the Mavericks needed to teach how to shoot or how to get a bucket against 1-on-1 coverage. Hendricks shot 39 percent from three in college, and 40 percent from the corner three of the NBA series. Let him cook in the pick and roll with Luka and Kyrie, let him learn to support the bench scoring when one of the two is on the bench. It also helps that Hendricks seems genuinely interested in defense, especially as a weak-side rim protector and someone who can switch. Hendricks feels like “what if Maxi Kleber, but more athletic without an aversion to dribble and make shots inside the three-point line that aren’t just dunks and layups,” and that seems like a perfect fit for Luka. He is my pie in the sky in the 10th place.

Anthony Black

It’s fun to watch the NBA go through phases as a new trend emerges with each playoff game. When the league shifted from the brutal rock games of the mid-2000s to the pace-and-space-three era right around the time the Mavericks won the title in 2011, the shift was that defensive-minded specialists could no longer exist unless they brought something to the table about attack. This was highlighted in 2015 when the eventual champion Warriors basically ignored the Grizzlies’ Tony Allen on offense during their second-round series, letting Allen’s defender roam the field like a free safety in football. That led to the rise and demand of the “3-and-D” player, a defensive specialist who could also spot and hit threes and punish any team that tried to mimic the Warriors’ defensive strategy.

Now we see a development of that trend. Teams are adapting more than ever, and we’re seeing that it doesn’t just take being a top shooting specialist to punish a defense for ignoring you. Teams are getting too good at closing up or counting on a 3-and-D player not to burn them. We saw this first hand in Dallas when the Mavericks tried to flood Doncic with these specialists (Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock). It worked to an extent (a Western Conference Finals appearance!), but we’ve seen the limitations of that as teams are now daring these specialists to do more than shoot. You can’t just be a 3-and-D guy anymore, you have to some off-the-bounce juice. The defense is too good now to have three or four spot up specialists around one or two star ball handlers. You need more now.

Enter Anthony Black, who feels like the perfect guy to perfect this next trend. Black isn’t a great shooter, and he’s not currently the type to dominate the ball as a lead guard. However, he is tall, athletic and a tie-in passer, a fancy term for someone who can keep the ball moving after an initial action. Think of Black as a Lonzo Ball-type player, someone you don’t want running a billion pick and rolls every game, but someone who can play on the weak side receiving a pass from the dominant ball carrier (Luka , Kyrie) and then keep the ball moving, whether that’s passing to the open man, or driving into the open space created by the other stars. Black has a great feel for the game, and his ability to make contact and finish around the rim only makes him more valuable. Black reminds me a bit of late-era Mavericks Jason Kidd, except he’s super young and still has all his athleticism. That player seems very valuable to me around a couple of ball dominating stars. When Luka or Kyrie attract attention, the players the Mavericks have around them must do more than just stand still and shoot. The defense is too good now. Black would be perfect in these scenarios while providing excellent defense on the other end of the floor. Look at Ball’s short time in Chicago before he got hurt. He shares the same skill set as Black (with the obvious difference being shooting) and played a similar role in Chicago that Black would play in Dallas, being the connecting player next to two ball-dominant perimeter players (DeMar DeRozan/Zach Lavine, Luka Doncic/Kyrie Irving). That Bulls were large before Ball’s injury (27-13 in 35 games in 2022) and I can see Dallas changing to that with Black in good time.

I’m all for Black in Dallas.

Jarace Walker

The pitch for Jarace Walker is heady: what if you gave Brandan Wright’s jump to a guy built like Superman? Or put another way, friend of the site and draft expert Brian Schroeder described Walker that way in his latest big board: “What if the Terminator was a real guy who played basketball?”

I hate to repeat myself, but how many times have the Mavericks had bad, physically imposing talent? Never? Walker might be the greatest athlete the organization has seen in decades, and the cool thing is that he still has some offensive skills to tap into. He’s not just a big, strong guy, although he is. He also has a floater, he can make good passes as a roll man in the pick and roll, and his jumper shows enough life that he could develop into a spot up player.

When I wrote my obituary about the Mavericks season, I noted how ridiculously low the Mavericks ranked on a lot of athletic-based stats: near the bottom of the league in steals, blocks, deflections, rebounds, etc. Basically, any stat that involved run and jump better than your opponent, the Mavericks were terrible at. Walker would be like a shiny, beautiful oasis in the Mavericks roster desert.

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