Mavericks Worst Move #2: Relying too little on the NBA Draft
Dating back to the beginning of the Nowitzki era, the Mavericks have taken an unorthodox approach to team building for a (relatively) small-market team. Dallas opted to build a contender primarily through trades and free agency as opposed to the NBA draft. That initially proved to be a successful strategy, with the Mavericks winning at least 50 games in 11 straight seasons from 2001 to 2011, making two NBA Finals, and winning a championship in 2012.
However, that strategy didn’t necessarily mean that they had to abandon using the draft to get better since adding cheap young talent has proven to be effective for many title-contending teams. The San Antonio Spurs are a case in point. They build almost exclusively through the draft, dating back to the beginning of the David Robinson era in 1987.
Of course, they have had some lottery luck, namely winning the draft lottery in 1997 to select Tim Duncan, but they also drafted two Hall of Famers, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, with the 28th and 57th picks in the draft. George Hill, DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard, Dejounte Murray, and Keldon Johnson—they’ve been able to consistently find talent later in the draft, while Dallas has seemingly punted on the process altogether.
Meanwhile, since 1998, the Mavericks can really only point to Devin Harris, Josh Howard, and Brunson as major draft success stories. Now with Victor Wembanyama, the Spurs will undoubtedly continue to utilize the draft to build around their new star, something that Dallas has shown no interest in doing even with a young star like Doncic to build around. Cuban and the Mavs will have to start taking the draft more seriously.