Imagine Charles Barkley and John Stockton in a Dallas Mavericks uniform. Sound impossible? Well, the Mavericks actually had a chance to draft both players together in 1984. Obviously, they chose not to.
With the NBA Draft upon us, I decided to have some fun and look at the Dallas Mavericks’ entire draft history as a franchise. Hindsight is 20/20, so it’s interesting to see where mistakes were made and how different things could have been.
Here are the eight worst draft night decisions made by the Dallas Mavericks.
8. 1981 Draft – #1 Pick, Mark Aguirre Over Isiah Thomas
The second pick in the 1981 draft was Isiah Thomas.
That’s a 12-time All-Star versus a 3-time All-Star. A 5-time All-NBA player versus one with no All-NBA appearances. And that’s not even mentioning Thomas’ championships and Finals MVP award.
It’s hard to say if Isiah Thomas would have had the same impact for the Mavericks that he did with his Pistons teams, but it’s a tantalizing fantasy.
7. 2011 Draft – #26 Pick, Jordan Hamilton Over Jimmy Butler
The Mavericks were riding high in 2011. After winning the franchise’s first championship, the draft was the last thing on fans’ minds.
When the Mavs got the 26th pick, we were all like, “Yay! We just won a ring!” When they drafted Jordan Hamilton, we were like, “Yay! We just won a ring!” When they traded him for Rudy Fernandez, who never played a game for the Mavs, we were like, “Yay! We just won a ring!”
When the Chicago Bulls picked Jimmy Butler just four picks later, maybe we should have paid attention.
It’s tough to fault a team for not seeing a diamond in the rough at the end of the first round, but it still hurts, nonetheless.
6. 1983 Draft – #9 Pick, Dale Ellis Over Clyde Drexler
This draft wasn’t a complete flop for the Mavericks. They drafted Derek Harper with the 11th pick, so they hit a home run there. However, their ninth pick, Dale Ellis, didn’t do much for the Mavericks. What hurts is that they could have drafted Clyde Drexler, who eventually went 14th.
Imagine a backcourt of Clyde Drexler and Derek Harper. They would probably have some deep Playoff runs, and maybe even make a run at an NBA title. Dale Ellis, on the other hand, played three seasons with the Mavericks and averaged 8 points per game. This was definitely a missed opportunity.
5. 1985 Draft – #8 Pick, Detlef Schrempf Over Karl Malone; #17 Pick, Uwe Blab Over Joe Dumars
Don’t get me wrong, Detlef Schrempf had a great career (though nowhere near the kind of career Karl Malone had), but his time with the Mavericks wasn’t spectacular. He played four seasons for the Mavs and averaged eight points a game.
On top of that miss, the Mavericks made another mistake. With the 17th pick, they chose to draft Uwe Blab over Joe Dumars, who was the very next pick. Joe Dumars had a Hall of Fame career, became a 2-time NBA Champion and a Finals MVP. Uwe Blab lasted five seasons in the league and averaged two points and two rebounds per game.
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4. 1996 Draft – #9 Pick, Samaki Walker Over Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakovic, or Steve Nash
Most of these lists include just one alternative that would have landed a franchise player. In those cases, you win some, you lose some. But in 1996, the Mavericks had several options. With the ninth pick, they could have chosen Kobe Bryant, who went 13th, Peja Stojakovic, who went 14th, or Steve Nash, who went 15th.
I guess all is well that ends well since the Mavs eventually got Nash and Peja, and won a Championship with Peja, but obviously that first name, Kobe Bryant, hurts.
3. 1986 Draft – #25 Pick, Mark Price (Traded)
This one really hurts because they actually drafted the guy! With the 25th pick, the Mavericks drafted Mark Price, a future All-Star and All-NBA point guard. They had him right in their hands, but then they traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
What did they get back?
A 1989 second-round draft pick, which they used to draft Jeff Hodge, who never played an NBA game.
Mark Price went on to average 15+ points and 6+ assists for the Cavaliers, who became an Eastern Conference powerhouse with Price.
2. 1984 Draft – #4 Pick, Sam Perkins Over Charles Barkley; #15 Pick, Terence Stansbury Over John Stockton
This was a one-two punch in the gut. The Mavericks were so close to changing the franchise forever, but they just barely whiffed on the opportunity. They had picks four and fifteen in the 1984 draft and chose Sam Perkins and Terence Stansbury. Charles Barkley and John Stockton went fifth and 16th, both one pick after the Mavericks’.
At the time, the Mavericks already had a core of Mark Aguirre and Rolando Blackman, plus a young Derek Harper. Imagine adding Charles Barkley and John Stockton to that team. Sheesh.
1. 2013 Draft – #13 Pick, Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo Over Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, Tim Hardaway Jr, or Others
Here’s what happened in 2013: The Mavericks drafted Kelly Olynyk with the 13th pick, immediately traded him to Boston for the 16th pick, then traded that for the 18th pick. They drafted Shane Larkin and traded another second-round pick for Ricky Ledo.
Here are all the players who were available at these picks:
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (drafted 15th)
- Dennis Schroder (drafted 17th)
- Tim Hardaway Jr. (drafted 24th)
- Reggie Bullock (drafted 25th)
- Rudy Gobert (drafted 27th).
All of those players were available, and the Mavs left with Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo. They could have drafted almost anyone else besides Shane Larkin, and they probably would have gotten a great player, if not an MVP or Defensive Player of the Year. That player would have joined a Playoff team with Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis.
If you could go back and redo one of these mistakes, which one would it be?
Honestly, I was surprised I couldn’t find more draft mistakes while making this list. The Mavericks have a pretty impressive draft record, but everyone makes mistakes. Thankfully, they didn’t make a mistake when Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Doncic were available.