When the Dallas Mavericks are lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy in late June, we’ll look back on Saturday night’s net scorching ceremony with the Milwaukee Bucks as the turning point.
Or, you know, maybe not.
There’s no denying that these games against Milwaukee and Boston were fun to watch. And maybe it was some kind of glimpse into Dallas’ potential. But taking a breath, and remembering the deficiencies this group carries, we know this is still a lottery team.
So very slowly, semi-quietly, we look ahead. One of the very few exciting aspects of being a team headed to the front of the lottery line is daydreaming about the future young stars the Mavericks can pick up. Yes, it’s a new-ish concept for this Dallas front office. But the idea that you can find the future of your franchise, not in free agency, but on draft night with young prospects exploding with potential, should ignite excitement through the hallways of the AAC.
We know plenty of the names. We’ve caught glimpses of them online in mixtapes and highlight reels, mostly as big fish in small ponds. But outside of one budding international star, what these players look like against other big fish is a bit of a mystery.
So here at Mavs Moneyball we invite you to learn with us. Every week we’re going to highlight a handful of games happening that week, featuring projected lottery picks. These are players we think fit best with our idea of a Dallas Mavericks Draft Big Board (coming soon); talent that fits the need and culture in Dallas.
It’s early in the college basketball season, and with the holiday week upon us, we have a slate of exciting mini-tournaments and invitationals. So the schedule below will look a bit different than future weeks. But if you find yourself wanting an escape from Mavs’ struggles, and want to daydream about the future, here are some games that might meet your needs:
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22ND
Arizona vs NC State (6 P.M. CT, ESPN3)
DeAndre Ayton leads a couple of NBA prospects and the Arizona Wildcats to face Dennis Smith Jr.’s alma mater, N.C. State, in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. If you haven’t seen any of Ayton, you’ll be shocked to learn that someone can be 19 years old and an actual Monstar. He’s just so full grown.
Though the N.C. State matchup might not be terribly exciting, it’s an ACC team. And we mention it here because of the potential meetings later in the tournament; if Arizona and others advance, they could be seeing SMU and possible future first rounder Shake Milton, then Mikal Bridges and his fifth ranked Villanova Wildcats (on the 23rd and 24th respectively). All in all, there could be a lot of draft talent playing in the Bahamas this week.
The PK-80 Invitational (Various times, ESPN Network)
If you had your fill on food, the NFL, or the NBA same ol’ same ol’, this would be the time to flip over to the inaugral PK-80 Invitational. In celebration of Nike Co-founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday, this tourney in Portland will bring in a slew of college teams to compete in a two bracket tournament. This is the sort of fun and chaos that college basketball brings.
And lucky for us, the bracket is packed with elite teams and lottery talent:
Duke: Marvin Bagley III, Gary Trent Jr, Trevon Duval, Wendell Carter
Michigan State: Jalen Jones Jr. and Miles Bridges
Texas: Mohamed Bamba
Oregon: Troy Brown
Plus the potential of these teams matching up with other quality squads: North Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, Gonzaga. Games will be happening all day long over Thanksgiving weekend. It’s worth tuning in to this lottery filled tournament.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26TH
Robert Williams and A&M match up with the 10th ranked USC Trojans Sunday night at 8 P.M. CT, on the PAC12 Network. Southern Cal has some quality NBA prospects, and it should be one of the better head-to-heads of the weekend, with Williams matching up against Chimezie Metu.
Robert Williams made a surprise return to A&M to play his sophomore year. He was seen as a late lottery prospect in last summer’s draft, and many scouts expected him to pursue that option. Now, after being suspended the first two games of the Aggies’ season for violation of team rules, he rejoined the team this week.
Additionally, the highly touted Michael Porter Jr. has essentially been out the entire first week of play with an injury. With the hype of being a possible number one pick in the draft, it’s worth monitoring whether he’s able to suit up this week. Missouri is playing in the Advocare Invitational, and released a statement Monday saying Porter Jr. would be visiting a specialist. So it may be a while.
Check back next week for a new slate of games – the next Maverick is somewhere out there!