DALLAS -- With the No. 17 pick of today's NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks figure they're sitting in a prime-time position.
With 10 of the 15 players on their roster set to become potential free agents Sunday, the Mavericks have needs all over the court. Except at power forward, where perennial All-Star Dirk Nowitzki will return for his 15th season.
Thus, with so many obvious vacancies, Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson knows they can ill-afford to make a mistake in what amounts to the franchise's highest draft pick since they used the 12th pick to select Syracuse forward Etan Thomas in the 2000 draft.
"It's not a time to roll the bones and take a chance on upside," Nelson said during a Wednesday morning news conference at American Airlines Center. "We would like to come out of this draft with something -- an impact rotation-type player, ideally. This is an important draft for us."
Players the Mavericks are considering at No. 17 are North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall, Baylor power forward Perry Jones III, Washington shooting guard Terrence Ross, Kentucky small forward Terrence Jones, Mississippi State power forward Arnett Moultrie and Baylor small forward Quincy Miller.
But with so many holes on a team that finished 36-30 in a strike-shortened season and was swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Mavericks are simply looking for the best player available.
"It's not a situation where you want to draft or get locked into a need," Nelson said. "If there's an impact player, if there's a fall guy that was meant to be a high lottery pick, if you get lucky in that form or fashion... This is a non-specific draft for us. We're going into it wide-eyed and open-minded and we'll see what happens draft day."
Nelson said there's little difference in where the Mavericks pick and where the lottery ends -- with the 14th pick. Therefore, he's expecting to get a quality player many of the lottery teams had on their draft board.
"And that's the exciting part of being where we're at is there will definitely be some guys that a lot of teams have circled in the late lottery," Nelson said. "Our pick is very popular, that area is very popular because it's a delta area. It's where the talent breaks. It's like bass fishing -- you go for those deltas. When the shoreline breaks that's where you cast your rod. We're kind of in that area. We're fortunate."
However, Nelson said the Mavericks aren't opposed to trading down in the draft for strategic purposes. But that won't be decided until today.
"We do have some situations that are contingent on certain guys getting there [at 17]," Nelson said. "Whether we pull the trigger on those or not remains to be seen.
"If we do flip down, we won't do so unless we know that there's a player that we really like and could get at 17 that we could otherwise get a little bit lower. It's a possibility."
Mostly, Nelson knows the Mavericks, who also have the 55th pick, are not in a position to draft a player who won't pan out with the 17th selection.
"I don't think that we're going to come out of this draft with an impact starter on this team next year," Nelson said. "But we absolutely will come out of this draft with a player that can be a rotation player for us.
"Whether it's next year or in a year or two, remains to be seen."
For the Mavericks, they should be able to fill at least one of their needs with the 17th pick.
"Where we're picking it's going to be interesting because there's really a little of everything down there," Nelson said. "There's guys that can get in the paint, there's some true point guards there are going to be in that area, [there are] , we think, some players that can have some potential upside in terms of creating their own shots.
"It's a center-heavy draft, so we might get a big guy that falls into our area. So we feel real good about the area. We think it's going to be a very active area."
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760