Mavericks 2023 NBA Draft Big Board: Who could Dallas draft at No. 10?

The Dallas Mavericks’ No. 10 selection in next month’s 2023 NBA Draft won’t solve the team’s problems, not on its own. It’s why the team views the pick as a potential trade asset, something to dangle while they prepare for a meaningful summer overhaul that attempts to make this roster right.

Still, the team does have the pick. They aren’t obligated to trade it, nor are other teams obligated to accept deals that might make sense for Dallas. What the Mavericks will be offered for the No. 10 pick depends on the nine selections before them, of course, and will be affected by the teams above them who might also be looking to move down. Dallas might trade down, rather than entirely out, of the first round as well.

For all those reasons, it’s good for fans who care about this offseason to have an idea about the prospects who might be available here or further down in the draft. I’m going to group them into tiers, and we’ll continue diving deeper into some prospects later on.

You can’t overthink if they fall

In Chicago at the draft combine, I constantly asked team and league personnel about the draft’s most important question. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, the answer was clear: No, it’s considered unlikely Victor Wembanyama falls to the No. 10 selection.

(I did actually ask that question several times. Oddly enough, people seemed to think I was joking. Fine! Sorry for asking questions!)

Taylor Hendricks is the only top-nine player whose immediate value to the Mavericks — as a 6-foot-9 wing with a proven offensive repertoire and elite defensive abilities — would almost certainly outweigh the offers from teams interested in trading up to snag him. I’d put Anthony Black in that category, too. He’s a 6-7 guard who might not be a lead shot creator, but whose offensive skillset and plus defending are perfectly suited to be a high-level starter.

Cam Whitmore should be mentioned here, too, but it seems even less likely that he falls.

Read more: Top 100 NBA Draft prospects for 2023: Final rankings, tiers and Big Board

You have to consider them at No. 10

If the draft holds true to what’s expected right now, about one month out, those players won’t be available. The following players are the ones that the Dallas front office is most actively discussing and analyzing, even if they are serious about trading that No. 10 selection.

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Trading a first-round pick on draft night is different than trading a future selection. Any trade proposal gets its valuation based on the player you’d be prepared to pick instead, and Dallas has to know how it views those players — and which teams might be interested in what prospects — so the team can push for more in any potential deal it discusses. Here are those players:

Jarace Walker | 6-8 | F-C | 19 years old

Walker is projected as a small-ball center more than a big wing, which is the slightly less valuable archetype. But positions don’t matter nearly as much as skillsets, and Walker’s immediate defensive abilities — mobile enough to switch, a good shot blocker even if he won’t be a rim-protecting defensive anchor and great traits to be an exceptional rebounder — are desperately needed in Dallas. He’s a smart playmaker especially in the short roll, which Dallas didn’t have consistently last season. His 3-point shooting improved in his one season at Houston, but Walker’s main question is how prolific he can be behind the arc.

Kobe Bufkin | 6-4 | G | 19 years old

Dallas shouldn’t be interested in drafting any prospect who profiles as a lead guard, but Bufkin projects more as a connector and initiator than a lead scorer. In Dallas, he could play as more of a dynamic 3-and-D wing — thanks to good defensive fundamentals and a 6-8 wingspan — without needing the ball to succeed. It’s possible he rises into the top nine in the next month, although he’s currently seen as a late-lottery pick.

Leonard Miller | 6-9 | F | 19 years old

Miller is my favorite developmental wing prospect, although he’s truthfully more of a versatile, ball-handling big man. But it would probably take a couple of years, at least, to develop his jump shot and find ways to use his plus athleticism to help a team with big postseason aspirations like Dallas.

Overall thoughts

There’s a good chance Walker is drafted prior to No. 10, and Miller might not be selected until after the lottery. (Trading down into the mid-teens and still drafting Miller might be a dream scenario if the Dallas front office decides that it’s a believer in the Canadian teen.) But that trio of players is who I think the Mavericks should debate and wrestle with drafting outright before deciding to trade the pick.

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You hope other teams love them

I don’t think Ausar Thompson, the 20-year-old 6-7 wing, is developed enough offensively to make sense for Dallas even if he has instant impact potential on the defensive end. If any top-nine projected prospect were to fall, though, it’s possible that it’s him. That might be a great scenario for Dallas if multiple teams are interested in trading up to snag him.

Gradey Dick isn’t likely to be considered by Dallas, team and league sources tell The Athletic, all of whom were granted anonymity since they were not authorized to speak publicly about prospects. The team’s new front office is focused on athleticism and physicality much more than the old guard, which might have favored a skilled shooter but an unremarkable athlete like Dick.

Bufkin is the only guard who I would consider with the No. 10 overall pick, though Dallas might feel differently. Cason Wallace, Keyonte George and Nick Smith Jr. don’t solve Dallas’ urgent needs and might struggle to earn minutes.

You’d love to trade down for them

Dallas can’t be choosers if the team does, indeed, trade the No. 10 selection. The best available move might not involve another first-round selection, but it could! What Dallas thinks of these players, what picks might be brandished by another team in a potential deal and whether the team could snatch one of these players with such a pick are all considerations they must have in the next month.

Dereck Lively Jr. | 7-1 | C | 19 years old

Lively has a chance to be drafted in the lottery, but it’s just as likely that the big center from Duke goes in the mid-to-late teens. He’s a rim deterrent — not just blocking shots, but scaring opponents from challenging him — who has athletic mobility and unpolished-but-somewhat-promising offensive potential. But he might need a season or two to get stronger and learn the rhythms of the NBA.

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Jalen Hood-Schifino | 6-5 | W | 20 years old

Hood-Schifino is a rangy wing defender who could have a lot of off-the-dribble juice in the midrange areas and as a secondary creator. He projects as a solid, low-ceiling role player. His 3-point shooting has questions, though, and neither he nor the next player solves the Mavericks’ immediate need for a big wing.

Jordan Hawkins | 6-5 | W | 21 years old

Hawkins’ most obvious comparison is Desmond Bane. While Bane has developed into a legitimate scoring option, his projection coming into the 2020 NBA Draft was similar to Hawkins’: proven volume shooter, older player with immediate impact potential, solid-if-not-shutdown defender. Hawkins might never be a 30-minute-per-night starter, but you can never have enough of those players.

Bobi Klintman | 6-10 | W/F | 20 years old

Bilal Coulibaly | 6-6 | W | 18 years old

G.G. Jackson | 6-9 | F | 18 years old

Klintman, Coulibaly, and Jackson are all developmental wings with buckets of potential that may or may not ever be realized. If Miller falls, I like him better than this trio, but Dallas could do worse than trading for and using a pick in, say, the early 20s to grab one of these players with a forward-thinking perspective. It’s even more important given the stricter rules in the league’s new collective bargaining agreement making it harder to retain high-salaried veteran role players.

I don’t have strong enough feelings, for now, to put any separation between this trio. But they made sense grouped together due to their similar strengths and weaknesses.

Overall thoughts

Dallas’ dream trade-down scenario, to me, would be exchanging the No. 10 selection for a spot in the late teens to select Lively or the early 20s for Hood-Schifino or Hawkins. If they could do that while receiving some sort of defense-first veteran who could immediately receive rotation minutes, that’s a clear win. But it would take a willing team, and perhaps the right prospect falling, for that to happen.

(Top photo of Jarace Walker: Alex Slitz / Getty Images)

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