The Dallas Mavericks historically use the NBA Draft as a gateway to pursue veteran players who can offer them immediate help.
Of the 15 players who officially ended this past season on the roster, none of them were drafted by the Mavericks. And the Mavs can’t say with certainty if the two picks — Nos. 21 and 52 — they have in this year’s draft will still be on their roster this time next year.
“Picking at 21, it’s a good area,” said Donnie Nelson, the Mavs’ president of basketball operations. “We feel like we’re going to get a player down there.
“If we get lucky there will be a couple of slide guys that make it into our region, but as usual with every draft we’ll be active. Whether we keep it or flip it or trade it ... we’re going to do what’s in the best interest of the team.”
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The NBA’s annual draft is Thursday from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Mavs, who were 50-32 in the regular season and eliminated by the Houston Rockets in five games in the first round of the playoffs, are in dire need of a point guard and power forward.
Duke point guard Tyus Jones worked out this month for the Mavs and may find himself running the team’s offense next season.
Jones, however, recently had to shut down workouts with other teams after he injured his back while working out for the Rockets.
Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant and Utah’s Delon Wright are two other point guards who may still be on the board when the Mavs pick at No. 21.
As far as power forwards go, the Mavs may have to start grooming a replacement in the starting lineup for Dirk Nowitzki, who is already on record as saying he wouldn’t mind going to the bench if the team can acquire a capable player to start in his place.
If the Mavs can’t find that player this summer via free agency, they may look in the draft. One of the power forwards they brought in for a workout is Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell.
Still, not many rookies have been able to accumulate significant playing time in coach Rick Carlisle’s rotation.
Rodrigue Beaubois, whom the Mavs acquired from Oklahoma City in a 2009 draft-day trade for rookie Bryon Mullens, is the most-celebrated rookie during Carlisle’s seven-year tenure with Dallas. Beaubois spent four years with the Mavs, averaging 17.7 minutes during their 2010-’11 championship season and 21.7 minutes the following year.
A stack of injuries, however, forced the Mavs to cut ties with Beaubois after the 2012-’13 campaign when his contract expired.
Josh Howard is the last player who was drafted by the Mavs who turned into a prominent player. He was chosen No. 29 overall on the first round of the 2003 draft that included LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, David West and Kendrick Perkins. Howard eventually was an All-Star in 2007.
Meanwhile, the Mavs have basically been making do with veterans since they won the 2011 NBA title.
“Except for the first two years, ever since Mark’s [Cuban] owned the team, we’ve been in run for the roses, chips on the table, get deep in the playoffs and make a championship-run mode,” Nelson said. “It doesn’t bode well for young guys.
“Especially now you can put three guys on the inactive roster, and Rick plays such a deep bench, it really lends itself more toward guys that are ready-made in the here and now versus the Ricky Ledos of the world, where you’ve got to wait two or three years [for players to develop].”
The Mavs acquired Ledo in a draft-day trade with Philadelphia in 2013. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard came with a ton of promise, but he played just 16 games for Dallas and spent the majority of his time with the Texas Legends of the D-League before the Mavs waived him Feb. 18.
Unless a team is among the top 14 lottery selections, Nelson said taking teenagers in the lower picks of the draft is risky business.
“If you get young guys 19 years old, if you’re picking down in that area, he’s probably going to spend a majority of his development in the D-League like Ricky did,’’ Nelson said. “And realistically, that’s just a real roll of the dice.
“When you’re picking the young futures in those areas, everybody knows that the younger the draft gets the more risky it gets. The more you’re projecting players, the greater your chances to fail, unless you’re a lottery-type player.”
Nelson acknowledged that if a player who they deem should have been a lottery pick lands in their lap, they will likely draft that player regardless of what position he plays.
“I don’t think when you get down to 21 you get real needs-specific,” Nelson said. “I think you take the best guy on the board.
“We’re not going to get locked in. If there is a good player that slides or we feel could help develop into something else, we’ll jump at it.”
In other words, the Mavs may wind up using that player as a gateway to pursue veteran players who can offer them immediate help.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760
The draft picks of the Dallas Mavericks and their whereabouts since Rick Carlisle became the team’s coach in 2008.
How he left the Mavs: Played the 2008-’09 season for Juvecaserta Basket of Italy
Whereabouts: Retired from basketball in 2013
How he left the Mavs: Draft rights traded to Oklahoma City
Whereabouts: Played this year for the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the D-League
How he left the Mavs: Played in Europe after the draft and draft rights traded to N.Y. in 2011
Whereabouts: Played this year for ASVEL Basket in France
How he left the Mavs: Draft rights traded to Toronto for cash considerations
Whereabouts: Played this year for Barako Bull Energy of the Philippine Basketball Association
How he left the Mavs: Draft rights traded to Denver
Played this year for the Clippers
How he left the Mavs: Draft rights traded to Portland
Played this year for Al Rayyan (Qatar)
How he left the Mavs: Draft rights traded to Cleveland
Whereabouts: Played this year for Boston
How he left the Mavs: Draft rights traded to the LA Lakers
Whereabouts: Signed last week by Trabzonspor of the Turkish Basketball League
How he left the Mavs: Draft rights traded to Boston
Whereabouts: Played this year for Boston
How he left the Mavs: Draft rights traded to Atlanta
Whereabouts: Played this season for Atlanta