Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks' top picks often fizzled, but these five sizzled

Dirk Nowitzki threw something as he watched the NBA Draft lottery

Dallas Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki, who is still recovering from ankle surgery, prepares for his annual charity baseball game, and shares his reaction to the Dallas Mavericks' slot in the NBA Draft.
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Dallas Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki, who is still recovering from ankle surgery, prepares for his annual charity baseball game, and shares his reaction to the Dallas Mavericks' slot in the NBA Draft.

Coming up with the all-time best first draft picks in Dallas Mavericks' history is shockingly easy to do.

Oh, you might quibble with the order of the top five, or how exactly to decipher a player's career achievements versus what they did in a Mavs' uniform. But after going over every top pick since the franchise took root in 1980, one thing is clear, the five stand out clearly.

And five is about where the list ends. There were no hard choices to make.

The NBA draft begins at 6 p.m. Thursday from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Dallas has the No. 5 overall pick. A year ago they scored big time with the No. 9 overall pick and need to do it again to turn the franchise around. There have been some very good players taken first by the Mavs, but often they excelled elsewhere.

Here are the Mavs' all-time five best first picks in the NBA draft:

5. Detlef Schrempf, 1985 (No. 8 overall)

Before Dirk, there was Detlef. Although he became an All-Star after the Mavs traded him, Schrempf was an integral starter on Dallas' first Western Conference finals team in 1988.

4. Sam Perkins, 1984 (No. 4 overall)

Again, Perkins fits a familiar theme. The first six seasons of his 17-year career came in Dallas and he lived up to his high draft spot, averaging 14.4 points, 8 rebounds and almost two assists per game for the Mavs. Only seven players scored more points and only two players grabbed more rebounds in a Mav' uniform than Perkins.

3. Dennis Smith, 2017 (No. 9 overall)

OK, hear me out. Much of Smith's inclusion on this list is based on projections. If his rookie season is any indication, Smith could be a cornerstone piece of the Mavs' turnaround. He averaged 15.2 points and 5.2 assists as a rookie and showed invaluable presence as a future team leader.

2. Jason Kidd, 1994 (No. 2 overall)

Kidd played eight of his 19 seasons in two stints for the Mavs, including a return to help Dallas claim its only NBA title. The '94 Rookie of the Year is still among franchise leaders in many categories, including third in steals, third in assists, and eighth in minutes played.

1. Mark Aguirre, 1981 (No. 1 overall)

It can't be discounted or overlooked how important the Mavs' second pick of '81 was to the history of the franchise. Rolando Blackman, taken 9th overall, would of course be among the team's greatest all-time players. But he wasn't the top pick. He was taken eight spots behind Aguirre, who was taken No. 1 overall. Aguirre has an admitted cloudy history with the Mavs, but there's no denying the numbers. He was a scorer and he scored like few Mavs ever have, including his franchise-best 29.5 points per game in 1983-84. The Mavs' 10 highest-scoring seasons including Dirk Nowitzki with six. Aguirre has the other four. His career average 24.6 points per game still lead the franchise. Only two Mavs scored more points (Nowitzki and Blackman).

Best of the rest: Jamal Mashburn (No. 4 in 1993); Jim Jackson (No. 4 in 1992); Roy Tarpley (No. 7 in 1986); Dale Ellis (No. 9 in 1983); Kiki Vandeweghe (No. 11 in 1980).

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