Mac Engel

The Mavs aren’t in the playoffs (again) but there is cause for celebrating the future

Dallas Mavericks salute their history with tribute to American flag

The Dallas Mavericks played a nearly two-minute video paying tribute to the American flag and milestone moments in franchise history before the national anthem was sung for the season opener Wednesday night at American Airlines Center.
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The Dallas Mavericks played a nearly two-minute video paying tribute to the American flag and milestone moments in franchise history before the national anthem was sung for the season opener Wednesday night at American Airlines Center.
The NBA playoffs are here and the Dallas Mavericks are not in them.


They likely won’t have a lottery pick, so looking for positives at the moment requires a shot glass full of the the good stuff, three Danny Robbins videos, and access to Mark Cuban’s Venmo account.


With the Dirk Nowitzki retirement ceremony but a memory, Mavs fans need something.


The safe money is to just assume that the Mavs will not have a first round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, that it will be shipped to Atlanta to complete the trade for Luka Doncic. Best to not raise your hopes that the Mavs will actually land a top five pick, let alone the chance to select Zion Natural Park.



The Mavs only want the pick if they can draft Zion.

Other than offer the prayer of singing a real free agent this summer, something this team has never excelled, there is this: The team already has a 2019 first round pick. He’s on their roster, which completes either the second or third best draft in franchise history.

Jalen Brunson is your 2019 Mavs’ lottery pick.

BAGGING BRUNSON

The Dallas Mavericks thought so highly of Brunson they did not have him on their draft board.



In the Mavs’ draft room on draft night 2018, they had already acquired The Luka, and as the first round continued they tried to determine who might be available with their second pick, selection No. 33.



They wanted a guard, and thought maybe Duke’s Gary Trent would be it; they were convinced there was no way Brunson would be available when it was their turn to make a selection. Brunson was not on their list.


Then the junior, who graduated from Villanova, dropped to No. 33, and the Mavs grabbed him.



For a variety of reasons, Brunson played the 12th most minutes of any NBA rookie. His 73 games ranked 11th among draft picks.



Based on virtually every metric, Jalen Brunson was either the 10th or 11th most productive rookie selected.



He’s a good passer with a point guard’s command of an offense; at a minimum, he could be a plausible replacement for J.J. Barea.

“Where I am right now in my career, I really don’t have time to reflect on what I’ve done,” Brunson said in an interview the day after the season ended. “With the season I’ve had, I can’t relax. I’m going to remember the season. It was memorable, because of Dirk and everything.

“I really just have to have short term memory. Positive or negative, it has to be a short term memory.”

A HISTORY OF HORRIBLE DRAFT CLASSES

Reviewing some of the draft classes by the Dallas Mavericks is akin to reading “A Loser’s Greatest Hits.” We are talking about all-time great picks such as Randy White, Doug Smith and Cherokee Parks.


Did you know the Mavs drafted Dale Ellis in 1983, two picks ahead of Derek Harper? They traded Ellis after three seasons to Seattle for Al Wood. Ellis became one of the better scorers in the NBA for more than a decade, while Wood was out of the NBA after his one year with the Mavs.


Did you know the Mavs selected Mark Price in the 1986 NBA Draft, but shipped him to Cleveland in exchange for a second round pick, who turned out to be a guy who never played in the NBA (Jeff Hodge)?


To use Brunson’s idea, the Mavs’ draft history requires the memory of an infant flea. There are but now three that standout.



In 1981, the team’s second year of existence, the team selected Mark Aguirre, Rolando Blackman and Jay Vincent in the first round.


Aguirre was a monster scorer, and monster migraine. The Mavs retired Blackman’s No. 22. Vincent was a good pro.


In 1999, they acquired Dirk on draft night. That pick alone makes that entire class one of the best in team history.


And in 2019, the Mavs will not have a first round pick.


Instead, they will have Luka and Jalen.


At this juncture, that is a positive.


Fox Sports' Kate Abdo joined Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel for the latest edition of The Big Mac Chat; she will be hosting the Fox telecast of the Errol Spence Jr. fight against Mikey Garcia on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.

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