Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks meet with French point guard, but is he worthy of No. 9 in NBA Draft?

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, above, during a Mavs pregame warmup last season, met over the weekend with French teenage point guard Frank Ntilikina.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, above, during a Mavs pregame warmup last season, met over the weekend with French teenage point guard Frank Ntilikina. AP

The Dallas Mavericks need a point guard for now and the future and may want to get one in the June 22 NBA Draft.

But which one? Or do you go best player available? Except with the No. 9 pick overall, who will be the best player on the board?

And the problem: At No. 9, the choice will be loaded with risk.

On Saturday, it was reported that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban met with 18-year-old French point guard Frank Ntilikina (Nee-lee-KEE-na) in Venice, Italy.

That was near the site in Treviso of the Adidas Eurocamp for prospects as the Mavericks leave no stone, or European, unturned in a quest to rebuild the champion-turned-also-ran Mavs.

Agent Olivier Mazet tweeted a photo of Cuban with the 6-foot-5 Ntilikina. That isn’t Donnie Nelson at left, however.

FanSided The Smoking Cuban reports that Ntilikinia is delaying his predraft workout until his Strasbourg team is done with the French playoffs.

What’s to like about Frank-o-phile? He has long arms: a 7-foot wingspan. That translates to defensive wizardry. At 18, he has a big upside.

Mock drafts have paired the Mavs and Ntilikina, who is tagged as a “raw” talent, from the get-go.

But ESPN.com draft insider Chris Ford added a different twist in his most recent mock (behind the ESPN Insider pay wall): The Mavs take North Carolina State freshman guard Dennis Smith.

Ford writes:

Ntilikina has great size for his position, plays with strength and displays a great feel. He's also an improving shooter. He reminds me a bit of George Hill. Smith has more athleticism, shoots it better and is more NBA ready, but does not quite possess the same feel for the game.

Ford writes that in a “normal draft” Smith would be a top-five draft pick.

This isn’t a normal draft because you have point guard Markelle Fultz going No. 1 in most mocks, point guard Lonzo Ball going No. 2, forward Josh Jackson at 3, and potentially awesome point guard De’Aaron Fox at 4.

And then there’s a scramble down to No. 9 that includes two freshman forwards, Jonathan Isaac from Florida State and Lauri Markkanen, a Euro, from Arizona, who could be draft gold or draft busts.

FanSided Sixers site writer Christopher Kline cautions the Sixers, who have the No. 3 pick, not to chance it on Ntilikina, unless they trade down:

He lacks the fundamentals needed to produce right away — while those same fundamental flaws could limit his upside for the foreseeable future.

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