December is here, and after a horrendous start to the season, the Dallas Mavericks seem to have found some life, winning 5 of their last 8, including consecutive hits from two Western Conference foes. That "streak" of victories now raises his record to 7-18.
That's still bad enough to keep them in third place from the bottom of the league in terms of winning percentage, but there's a group of teams not far away, and if the needle points up, Dallas could continue climbing in the classification. This will mean that those days of mourning for Luka Dončić are gone, but it's still worth taking a look at who might be available a little later in next summer's draft.
With that, let's reveal the first Mavs Moneyball Big Board for 2018. To be absolutely clear, this is not a prediction of the order in which the players will be taken (I do not make false drafts). This is how I rank the top 15 players for Dallas, and like last year, these rankings take into account the team culture of Dallas, and they adjust, hence the absence of point guards like Collin Sexton (yes, I know he scored 40 points against Minnesota playing 3-on-5), Trevon Duvall, Trae Young, etc.
1. Luka Dončić, Real Madrid
Dončić has already played in 20 games, between ACB and EuroLeague, and is generally averaging just under 17 points, six rebounds and five assists per game in 26 minutes. Keep in mind that you do not face young people of 19 and 20 years old as prospects of the national university, but rather older and experienced professionals. Dončić's team only has seven former NBA players on their list. He has loaded a great burden for Real Madrid and with only 18 years, and his confidence and conscience no doubt belie his age.
Watch Dončić play and you will see him all over the ball, at both ends. He has an exceptional vision and can make spectacular passes, but he is also a capable, cunning and deceptively strong scorer. At the other extreme, it may never be a stopper, but his size and instinct should eventually make him a solid defender of the team. I think he can play at any wing point, and possibly online, even a small four small balls (the kind of positional versatility that Rick Carlisle would surely love). Dončić's three-point shots must continue to develop so he can unlock his potential as a legitimate star, but more than anything, it looks like a sensational fit between the guys Dallas seems to be building: Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr.
]2. Marvin Bagley III, Duke
Bagley has been the history of college basketball so far, leading Duke to an undefeated start with his dominant game. He pulled out the Michigan State game when he was forced to leave 10 minutes after receiving a blow to the eye, and Bagley scored at least 18 points and caught at least eight rebounds in each game. In general, he is averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds each, converting more than 60 percent of his field goals. Your skill set is tempting. He has not hit the three balls constantly, but I think that is to come. He already looks very comfortable with the ball, and will go from end to end after grabbing a rebound or blocking a shot.
It's worth remembering, because he reclassified to be eligible to play at Duke, Bagley is almost a year younger than the other top high-level candidates in this draft, and at this early stage they are also the most productive. If you look hard enough, you can find wrinkles (strength pairings can disturb him, and his non-elite length will make NBA opponents harder to achieve than those in the university, obviously), but size, skill and The production are such that I am very comfortable classifying it in the n. ° 2.
3. DeAndre Ayton, Arizona
Ayton has also been outstanding in the early stages, averaging 20 and 11 for Sean Miller and the high octane Wildcat offense. While Bagley is a bit scrawny and sinewy, with only an average size for a big one, Ayton has a strong and mature body, along with a wingspan of 7 & # 39; 5. What makes Ayton special is how skilled he is with the ball in that size, since he has been dominant in the position while also showing the ingredients of a real game face up.
Greg Oden with ball skills sounds like an incredibly good profile, however, Ayton is not the first on this list because he developed a good reputation in high school for the free ride, instead of being constantly engaged. Concerns like that could be exaggerated, or they could not be. If Ayton keeps playing like that on the court, that noise will calm down considerably, since Ayton is very much a candidate to be first overall.
4. Michael Porter Jr., Missouri
Porter was ahead of Ayton at the start of the college season, but as you will have heard, the Missouri freshman had a back surgery before Thanksgiving and will miss all the season. What this means exactly for the state of your perspective is not clear. It could still be one of the top five selections, as long as the teams get positive comments during the medical checks. He could also decide to return to Columbia, where the hometown product promised to make the Tigers basketball program relevant again.
I guess you will not miss the opportunity to sign a multi-million dollar contract and start your career. career. I was absolutely in the mix to be No. 1 based on his scoring talent and I still have to hear something that suggests that the injury will present long-term problems.
5. Mohamed Bamba, Texas
The incredible size of Bamba (supposedly 7 & # 39; 9) and the agility of its size make it another potential franchise center, although it is now slightly behind the development curve in comparison with the previous one. Bamba impressed me in the exhibition game with how far his jumpshot looked, although obviously there had not been too large a sample size yet. My expectation was that he would be very raw on that end, even.
The offensive is probably a salsa for Bamba, who has the tools to be a level defensive disruptor Rudy Gobert. He is currently second in the nation in blocks, with an average of four per game. Bagley-Ayton-Bamba may well be like choosing your favorite ice cream. If Dallas somehow manages to stay bad enough to keep one of the top five picks, I think it will be hard for them to screw that selection.
6. Jaren Jackson Jr., State of Michigan
Yes, he is another great man. The son of former NBA player Jaren Jackson (best known for his time with the Spurs, whom he helped win his first NBA title) is 6 & # 39; 11 with a wingspan of 7 & # 39; 4 and is another Great prospect 2018 that brings a combination of blocking shot and an outside shot in development to the table. This is the direction in which basketball has been running for a few years, and Jackson, Jr. is adapting to that new era for a tee.
You will probably need some time to grow, both figuratively and literally. I do not think it's realistic to expect him to be an important contributor next year for an NBA team. However, with Nerlens Noel looking like he's halfway there, Jackson represents the ultimate fan of a team like Dallas that gets hooked as the next big man in the franchise.
7. Miles Bridges, Michigan State
Bridges is the first college player to return on this list. It almost certainly would have been a lottery choice if he had stayed in the draft last summer, but moves to a possible top 10 as a sophomore. Bridges has not had the campaign that I think he was expecting so far, as a sprained ankle kept him out of play and delayed his progress thereafter, although he still has plenty of time to change things.
When it's on, Bridges can make amazing plays, but almost every time I saw him play I have the feeling that Bridges is somehow less than the sum of his parts. He is not very creative or deceptive with the ball, since he plays more like a soccer player, he attacks directly and tries to dominate and jump the players in the basket. He can shoot down outside shots if he has time, but he is not a threat to throw the dribble at all. Considering all that, do you wonder if your average length makes it more tweener than true combo?
8. Robert Williams, Texas A & M
Williams was suspended for the first two games of the college season for undisclosed reasons, but the sophomore has recently strengthened himself as a part-time player for the Aggies. Almost averaging a double-double in less than 22 minutes, while the conversion of almost 70 percent of your shots is quite efficient, right? In addition, Williams has even shown some surprising competition as a passer, although it seems likely that his (better) role in the next level is as a finalist and rebounder of pick-and-roll boats.
Williams is on the shorter side if his final landing point is in the center, but he makes up for it with long arms and explosiveness, elasticity at the nuclear level. He seems to get in the way more than any player he can remember. The suspension, along with my concerns that he is not really a center, represents some possible flags, but he is moving for me.
9. Mikal Bridges, Villanova
This Bridges had a humble start to his college season, taking 2 of 8 and 0 of 5 against Columbia. Since then he has been setting fire to the networks, with 26 of 46 (56 percent) behind the college's three-point line, and averaging more than 20 points per game in that span, culminating in a 28-point performance in a loss of the best ranked Gonzaga on Tuesday. If that was not enough, thanks to his abnormally long weapons, Bridges is also a dynamic player in the defense, averaging more than two steals and a block and a half per game.
In a nutshell, this is the Rolls Royce of 3- and -D prospects, and although I'm usually cautious about having a player with that profile in the top 10, Bridges looks good enough to make me rethink that position. I'll admit that I arrived a little late at the Bridges station, but for now I'm definitely on board the hype.
10. Bruce Brown, Miami
I hope Brown is the guy that I've consistently ranked higher than most of the others, but I agree with that. The second year guard of 6 & # 39; 4 is one of my favorites, since he does almost everything well and receives criticism for being a teammate of quality and hardworking. Brown uses intelligence, toughness and long arms to play much bigger than his size should allow, and completes the statistical sheet, averaging 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game.
His outdoor shot was a pleasant surprise as a freshman, and he has continued to attack his detection attempts in his second year (40 percent since college three). If that's the case, I think he's a great potential formula partner for Dennis Smith Jr., since Brown can protect multiple positions, be a secondary ball controller, and also be an offside threat when necessary. The problem is that he is "old" for a sophomore at age 21, so like Mikal Bridges, he may not have a true rising star.
11. Kevin Knox, Kentucky
John Calipari has had at least one pick in the top 10 in every draft since he came to Lexington, but that streak may come to an end. Barely. Knox could definitely sneak in there, as he has become the Wildcats' top scorer (something I do not know if he had predicted before the exhibition game). Knox is awesome because he gets his baskets without having many plays called for him. He is a terror in transition, finishing the standout-reel plays bugs and turnovers. It has also been a pleasant surprise to discover, with an arched shot that has made about 35 percent of three.
Knox's size, athleticism and ability could turn him into a steal for a team that needs a forward combo, although he will have to keep working on creating more dribble looks. At least it will be fun to see it on the next level.
12. Džanan Musa, Cedevita
A few months ago, Musa was one of the few who fought to be the second international player taken after Dončić, and Musa's appearance in the Adriatic League may have consolidated that status for him. The 18-year-old Bosnian is 6 years old and skilled, with a shooting range that develops at a rapid pace given his level of experience. He does not have Dončić's pedigree, but his shooting profile as a big wing is very promising.
The main question mark seems to be how effective a defender can be in the NBA, since he has the familiar target The profile of the euro is thin and not particularly fast laterally. If you are buying this prospect, you are doing it for your crime, in other words.
13. Wendell Carter, Jr., Duke
Carter, Jr. has clearly been eclipsed by Marvin Bagley III, but the other great first-year mega recruits for the Blue Devils have been discreetly productive in their own right. His rebound rate is a tick higher than Bagley's, and he's also throwing a bit better from the field. Carter also connected in 3 of 6 3-pointers attempts in 11 games; a small sure sign that, however, hints at a possible pick-and-pop game later on.
Carter is not as flashy as the other great men who are projected in the lottery, but the great young people who can do a little bit of everything does not grow on trees. If Dallas makes the pursuit in the playoffs interesting on the home stretch and still wants to recruit a great man they can prepare, this guy makes a lot of sense.
14. Troy Brown, Oregon
Brown had a good start for the Ducks, but slowed down a bit before missing a game against Boise State with a concussion. Brown still has a really good toolkit: he has 6 & # 39; 7 with scoring skills, a bit like a young Evan Turner, although up to this point Brown is projected as the best defender.
Like Turner, Brown is not a beaten three-point shooter, although his free throw percentage is strong enough to leave room for encouragement on that front. A versatile two-way wing is exactly what Dallas could use to add to its young core, and Brown represents a good bet in the middle of the first round.
15. Lonnie Walker IV, Miami
Walker has been bothered by injuries and started his amateur career, but with Bruce Brown out, he showed why he was such a promoted recruit, contributing 26 points against Boston University on Tuesday night . Walker shows a broad base of skills, with a good shot, and the ability to drive and finish or find open teammates. I would like to see more performances like that before considering something other than "flash", but it's early.