With the NBA Draft just days away, Wiz of Awes will be doing a mock draft, which we’ll break down each pick for every lottery team, including the Washington Wizards. [Completed Mock Draft: 1) Cleveland, 2) Orlando, 3) Washington Wizards, 4) Charlotte, 5) Phoenix, 6) New Orleans, 7) Sacramento, 8) Detroit, 9) Minnesota, 10) Portland, 11) Philadelphia 12) Oklahoma City]
13) Dallas Mavericks: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse
Basic Stats: 11.9 PPG, 5.0 REB, 7.3 AST, 2.7 STL
After not making the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, you just know Mark Cuban is looking to make a splash. He seems to have swung and missed on the big fish in free agency the last few years now, and this year could be no different. You can’t blame a guy for trying though, and the assumption here is that they will.
No matter what happens, at 41-41, the Mavs need talent upgrades. Rick Carlisle did a hell of a job keeping this group fighting all season. Sure, Dirk Nowitzki’s offseason knee surgery caused him to miss a third of the season, and that basically torpedoed the team’s chances at the playoffs, but let’s be honest, that team was a cast of one-year deals and expiring contracts with the purpose of having clean books for this upcoming offseason. Mission accomplished. If you count Marion, they have five players certainly under contract next season, including Dirk, Vince Carter, and Jae Crowder (OJ Mayo has a player option that he could easily choose to opt out of, Darren Collison can be offered the qualifying offer or be renounced).
With Cuban playing a Pimp Named Slickback and shopping Marion and the 13th pick all over town, I would be more surprised at this point if Dallas makes this pick than if they don’t. The goal appears to be to dump Shawn Marion and his $9.3 million expiring contract and the guaranteed money associated with the 13th pick for needed cap room to acquire a max-level free agent, presumably Dwight Howard or Chris Paul.
A couple days ago sources indicated that Dallas may have been close to a trade with Charlotte. Other rumored suitors for the pick have been Cleveland and Sacramento. While it seems increasingly unlikely, if they do end up keeping the pick, the Mavs can still defer the salary and the cap hold on the pick if they draft a foreigner and stash him, provided the player agrees to not come to the NBA next season. With Dario Saric, pulling out of the draft last week, raw but freakish Frenchman Rudy Gobert could be in the mix, as well as 6’2 German point guard Dennis Schroeder. Though draft and stash may very well be the plan, I’m giving Dallas the swing for the fences choice in Syracuse PG Michael Carter-Williams.
MCW can dish the basketball. He averaged 7.3 assists per game and led the nation in total assists on a team that averaged less than 71 points per game last season. The kid can dish the rock. He possesses the attributes of a good point guard. He’s really good in transition, and has pretty good handles, and his size gives him the advantage of being able to see over smaller guards. At 6’6, he obviously rebounds well for his position. Carter-Williams’ athleticism is exceptional. At the NBA Draft Combine, he finished fifth in vertical jump, and ninth in the lane agility and the three-quarter sprint drills. His ability to anticipate is evident in leading the nation in steals.
Carter-Williams doesn’t come without plenty of weaknesses. He had a penchant for turning the ball over at times, finishing last season with a 22.2% turnover rate. That is somewhat mitigated by his high usage, but that is still an alarming. His shooting is troubling, to say the least, with shooting splits last season of 39/29/69. This HAS to improve. He struggled in big spots, including in the Final Four, where his turnovers and jumper proved costly. He’ll obviously have to work a lot on both at the next level. At about 185 pounds, physicality certainly isn’t going to be his calling card starting out.
Through it all, Michael Carter-Williams is a 6’6 pass-first point guard with a good basketball IQ and elite athleticism, and there’s an appeal to that. Besides, Dallas needs a floor general, as I don’t really think that Darren Collison is the answer. He’ll benefit from playing a season or two with Dirk Nowitzki, and maybe even Dwight Howard if the Mavs luck up. If he improves his shot, he could flourish with Dirk in the pick and roll. Either way, I think Carter-Williams could prove to be a worthy gamble for Dallas.