With a tough, four game home stretch looming, the question over a high draft pick or a playoff push looms larger than ever over the Dallas Mavericks.
The Dallas Mavericks had a horrid start to the season.
Due to bad luck and a newly put together team, Dallas started the season 4-21 as everyone started to pencil in the Mavericks into he Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball sweepstakes at the top of the 2017 NBA Draft.
But then the veterans started to get healthy, Seth Curry was inserted into the starting lineup, and Donnie Nelson found a new weapon in Yogi Ferrell. Suddenly, the Mavericks were right in the thick of things for a possible playoff spot out West.
So would a first round matchup with a stacked Warriors or Spurs team be worth giving up a high draft pick?
That has been the question all season since the veterans got healthy, but looms even larger at this point in the schedule.
Currently, before the Golden State Warriors game on March 21st, the Mavericks sit just 2.5 games back from the Denver Nuggets for the 8th spot in the Western Conference. With 13 games to go, Dallas still has a shot at the playoffs theoretically.
On the other scale, the Mavericks sit with the 10th worst record in the league. Much like Denver, the Mavericks sit two games back from Minnesota for the 8th worst record in the league and a higher draft pick.
So which “race” are you watching as a fan? Which “race” are the Mavericks looking at?
The Mavericks’ next four games at home should tell everyone which “race” to follow over the last week or so of the season. They have Golden State, Los Angeles (Clippers), Toronto, and Oklahoma City all coming to town over the next six days.
For the fan base, it seems like the draft pick “race” is the one that is being followed the most, but for the Mavericks, shooting for the playoffs has been the goal all along. But will that goal remain the same going into the last 13 games of the season?
If the Mavericks decide to “tank” it out for the rest of the season, landing in the top five of the draft is still somewhat of a long shot. Landing in the 6th or 7th spot would be more possible, but landing in the 8th spot would be more reasonable.
So is there a big difference from picking at the 7th or 8th spot compared to the 10th or 11th spot? Considering the Mavs draft needs at point guard and the prospects in the draft, it could be huge.
There are five top point guard prospects in the 2017 NBA Draft. Fultz and Ball are the presumed top two picks. After that, Dennis Smith Jr. and De’Aaron Fox are considered by many to go in the top six (Draft Express has Fox going fifth and Smith sixth). Then there is Frank Ntilikina out of France. Looking at the teams in front of the Mavericks in the draft order and their need for a future point guard, the chances of Ntilikina lasting until the 10th or 11th pick are slim.
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If the Mavericks are completely fine with landing a player like Lauri Markkanen or Miles Bridges, then none of this matters. But if a point guard in the draft is the goal, then these next few weeks mean everything.
It’s easy to sit back as a fan from afar and say the team should tank, but these guys are competitive, grown men who want to win. For players like Nowitzki, Harris, Barea and other veterans, losing on purpose is not in their DNA.
The question might be answered on its own if Dallas loses three of four of the four game home stand, which is a very likely outcome.
Either way, with 13 games of the season left, the dilemma will be answered very soon in Dallas.