Mike Gallagher

Offseason Beat

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Hindsight in 2020

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


The narrative on a story could change over a long period of time or it could change in just one night. Perhaps no night can change a narrative like the NBA Draft.

 

On Thursday, we saw three teams really shift the way we view them, and this happens before we judge players. For instance, the Kings were the laughing stock of the NBA for years. Former 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie fleeced them for a 2019 pick and the pick swap to help them get Markelle Fultz. The Pelicans also acquired DeMarcus Cousins at what almost everyone perceived to be below market value. Over the last decade, the Kings have swung and missed on more guards in the draft than most teams have done in their franchise’s history. What’s more, trading back last year at pick eight to get major project Georgios Papagiannis, pick 27 and Bogdan Bogdanovic instead of just taking Marquese Chriss was a bit of a head scratcher. It almost looked like general manager Vlade Divac had an affinity for foreign players.

 

Well, now the Kings have done a great job shifting the narrative with draft picks coming from power conferences. They even pulled off a smart trade when they moved back from No. 10 to get the 15th and 20th picks from the Blazers to help their depth. They picked up De’Aaron Fox at five, Justin Jackson at 15, they took a chance on Harry Giles at 20, and grabbed a pro-ready Frank Mason III at 30. If Giles is healthy, there’s a chance these young Kings can make the rotation. They’re still the Kangz, but they’re getting a lot closer to being the Kingz and maybe they’ll be the Kings after they get over the Hinkie robbery in 2020.

 

On the other hand, there's the Bulls. They’re a long way from the 1990s dynasty days, and just a couple years ago they were contenders against the Cavs. Now, they just got fleeced in a Jimmy Butler deal. While I am totally on board with trading away Butler to rebuild, you’re telling me they could not do better than Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and the No. 7 pick? Plus, they actually gave up the No. 16. It happened. Does Tom Thibodeau know a Jedi mind trick or something? Lauri Markkanen is not the droid you’re looking for.

 

When you’re going through a rebuild, you have to swing for the fences and you should also go for guys that fans may want to see play. While Markkanen could be a fantastic stretch four/five as one of the best seven-foot shooters to come out in some time, why wouldn’t you take a guy with huge upside? While I wouldn’t have wanted the package the Wolves gave me at all, it’s OK to have two point guards. We’ve seen the Blazers have tremendous success at their two guard spots with C.J. McCollum shifting to SG. Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to actually have a point guard who can shoot in today’s NBA? It’s been way too long.

 

Anyway, the Bulls look to have a plan, so that’s a start. Last year, they tried to have their cake and eat it too with some young players while adding Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade to their roster. While Wade has $24 million reasons to stay, they’ll probably limit his minutes and maybe trade him. Nobody is sleeping on the Knicks as the worst front office right now (get it???), but the Bulls really should’ve handled the Butler situation differently.

 

One team that has seen a change in strategy and possibly style of play is the Dallas Mavericks. For years, they were always going for it and this year they had their highest draft pick since they selected Dirk Nowitzki at No. 9 in the 1998 draft. That’s a long time ago.

 

In fact, owner Mark Cuban finally admitted to the Mavs tanking last season. Cuban knew that the upcoming pick was potentially a franchise-changing selection coming up. So much so that he actually did everything he could to make sure there were no Woj bombs or tipped picks before they were picking. Check this out (via Dallas Morning News):

 

"The closer it gets to the (No. 9) pick, the more tense it became," Cuban said. "I said, 'OK, two things. One, when I'm on the phone, everybody shut up. Two, if this gets to Wojo before our pick, whoever we find out did it is fired.'"

 

 

Mark Cuban, Director of the Woj Bomb Squad.

 

Anyway, the Mavs went for pure upside with their selection of Dennis Smith Jr. at No. 9. It looks like they know that these days having a good point guard can make the difference, and they know Yogi Ferrell isn’t quite the guy to lead them to the promised land. Last year, six of the top eight seeds had an All-Star point guard — it would’ve been seven in the last year if nine-time All-Star Chris Paul got a spot this year.

 

Sometimes teams don’t want to dump pressure on guys. The Magic were pumping the brakes a bit on their No. 6 guy, Jonathan Isaac.  “We don’t intend to take our team and say [to Isaac], ‘Hey, take us to the promised land right now.’” coach Frank Vogel said. That’s not true for the Mavs, though. Check out how hard they are rolling out the hype train on DSJ:

 

 

 

Hype train full steam ahead!

 

OK, so what’s with the hype? While he is a shade undersized at 6’3”, DSJ has a 6’10” wingspan and he’s a straight up freak athletically as you can see by that 48-inch vert quote above. DSJ himself said he’s also gained eight inches to his vertical from his ACL tear during his senior year in high school.  Here’s a GIF of him jamming on someone. 

 

Looking at the stats, he obviously isn’t a finished product at 19 years old. He really struggled on two-point jumpers, making just 30.5 percent of those. He also made 35.8 percent of his treys, but he was unassisted on just 48.1 percent of those. His jumper is pretty smooth and quick, so he just needs to work. This was a really nice contested catch-and-shoot J:

 

 

Looking at the basic stats, it certainly whets the appetite. In 34.8 minutes per game, DSJ averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 boards, 6.2 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.7 treys on 45.5 percent from the field and 71.5 percent from the line. He also turned in a 27.2 usage rate and a respectable 56.3 TS%.

 

With DSJ not being the best jump shooter, he’s likely going to have to count on getting buckets in the paint. While the 71.5 percent from the line isn’t great, he should get better at knocking down freebies as he gets older and also going to the line 6.3 times per game last year is solid. He was killer in the paint at NC State with 37.1 percent of his shots coming within three feet while making 64.9 percent of those. Solid.

 

As we’ve talked about a lot on our pods, we love DSJ. His opportunity is huge and the Mavs will be letting him loose. Yes, we’ve seen coach Rick Carlisle limit rookies, but this time is different as the Mavs look to rebuild.

 

He’s shaping up to be a top-three 2017 draft pick for fantasy and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him win Rookie of the Year.



Mike Gallagher has covered fantasy hoops for eight years and this season is his second with Rotoworld. You can find him on Twitter talking about a player's shots at the rim.



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