Alex Len, No. 13 (Mock Draft)
The 7-footer will (almost) certainly be unavailable, but Dallas wouldn’t be mad if he slipped.
by Eldon Khorshidi | @eldonadam
With the all-but-certain presumption that OJ Mayo won’t exercise his player option and instead test free agency this offseason, the Dallas Mavericks could potentially have only five players on their guaranteed payroll come July: Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Jae Crowder, Vince Carter and Jared Cunningham.
In other words:
2013-14 Dallas Mavericks
PF — Dirk Nowitzki
SF — Shawn Marion
Bench: Vince Carter, Jae Crowder, Jared Cunningham.
Yeah, a team that won the Championship two years ago is now, to put it lightly, in a state of flux.
So, how to proceed? On one hand, the Mavs have the cap room to build through free agency, either in the form of ancillary acquisitions or a mega-coup of Dwight Howard/Chris Paul. Assuming Shawn Marion decides to exercise his PO (which he will; no other team would pay him the $9.3 million he’s scheduled to make next season), Dallas will have a little under $17 million to spend during free agency. Not bad, considering free agents will be be intrigued to play in a major market, with Dirk and for Mark Cuban.
On the other hand, will a difference-making free agent—who’ll use up most of said cap room—be inclined to play alongside an aging Nowitzki, a past-his-prime Marion, and, well, not much else? And is that core enough to win in May? Basically, even with the low state income tax, it’s not going to be easy to lure a big fish to Dallas. The Mavs have several options—and decisions—to explore this summer.
One of those decisions is what to do with the 13th and 44th picks. It has widely been speculated over the past month that Dallas, in an effort to further trim its payroll and better position itself in free agency, is likely to either trade the 13th pick or draft an international player and stash him overseas next year. In doing the latter, the Mavs would avoid the $1,655,300 cap hold that comes with the 13th pick.
Trading the pick is entirely possible, but stashing a player overseas doesn’t seem likely at this point. Croatian forward Dario Saric (I don’t know much about Saric, but many have referred to him as the international version of Otto Porter) would’ve been willing to play overseas for a year or two, but he recently withdrew from the Draft so he could do just that. Such a scenario could still play out with another prospect—whether it’s Rudy Gobert, Dennis Schroeder or Sergey Karasev—but for the sake of this mock draft, we’re going to operate under the assumption that the depleted Mavs will take a prospect who played on American soil in 2013.
With an abundance of holes in their roster, on Draft night I think the Mavs will take the best player available, regardless of position.
And with that, I must introduce a caveat to my pick. On June 27, there is probably a zero percent chance that Alex Len is available at this point. In fact, when I sent my pick to Ryne on Saturday, the thought of Len being available this late was so egregious that I didn’t even realize he was. I originally submitted a different pick and started my write-up, before I finally noticed.
So, before we get to Len, let me say just this: On Draft night, if the 7-1 Ukrainian center is taken before the 13th pick (which will probably be the case), I have three other prospects in mind for the Mavs: Ricardo Ledo, Tony Snell or Archie Goodwin with the 13th pick.
Yes, one of those three, with the 13th pick. Call me crazy, but in a Draft like this, I think it’s worth it to swing for the fences and deal with the consequences later. Let me try to explain, with a quick tidbit on each of the three.
Ricky Ledo: He can play either guard position, and may be the best natural scorer in the Draft. Ledo was a top-20 ranked high school prospect in the country last season and was widely regarded as the most gifted scoring guard in his class. At 6-7, he’s long, athletic, an excellent penetrator and has the shooting mechanics to become a great shooter. On top of that, he had a legitimate killer instinct all throughout high school, and in case it wasn’t clear, he is 6-7 at the combo guard position. Ledo will probably be available in the late first round, but not so much in the mid second, where the Mavs are picking 44th. I’d take the chance here.
Tony Snell: I’ve written about my appreciation for Snell almost exhaustively, so I won’t say too much here. 6-7, cornrows, lanky, athletic, great jumpshot, not great ball-handling skills, a total team player, etc.
If he can develop a consistent motor, Snell has a chance to be a very good NBA player. When we talk about shooting, we usually praise the likes of Ben McLemore (and rightly so), but like I’ve always said, if you ask me I think Tony Snell is the best catch-and-shooter player in the country.
Archie Goodwin: There are at least 20 more NBA-ready players in the Draft than Goodwin, but I would take him in the Lottery, and here’s why.
Despite all the negative reports, I am still extremely high on Goodwin. Firstly, he is the youngest player in the Draft (18 now; turns 19 in August). I loved him when he was in high school, and I still think the sky is the limit for him.
At 6-5 (and still growing), Goodwin is a long combo-guard with a smooth handle, pure jumpshot and tremendous athleticism. In transition, he is among the best finishers in the country. He competes defensively, and has advanced offensive moves in the open court, a la Russell Westbrook. Goodwin will need to improve his shooting mechanics, consistency and shot selection, but he is a great penetrator and his natural talent cannot be denied.
Workouts will determine where Goodwin gets drafted, but I will say this: If I’m an NBA GM who can afford to wait and develop Archie, he will pay dividends down the line because his talent doesn’t come around every day. The killer instinct is also there, but it just needs to be channeled in a more disciplined way.
Say what you want, but in my estimation, there aren’t 20, or maybe even 15, more talented and hungry players in the Draft.
OK, enough fake picks. (Well, sort of. This is a mock draft after all.)
Where were we? Oh right—the Mavs taking the best player available.
At this spot in the Draft, this was a pretty easy pick.
With the 13th pick in the 2013 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Dallas Mavericks select…
Alex Len from Maryland.
With all the hoopla surrounding Nerlens Noel this season, what the public seemingly neglects is that Alex Len could end up being a better NBA player. Not saying Len will be, but based off what we saw in college, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case.
At 7-1 and with a 7-4 wingspan (and only 19 years old), Len has the offensive skill set that NBA teams covet. He has solid touch around the basket—already equipped with moves and counter-moves—and can easily knock down 15-20 footers. He has phenomenal coordination and agility for his size, and has the touch to create with either hand in the post. There are questions about his toughness, but in college Len finished with dunks when near the rim, so he appears not to be soft, per se.
If Len makes a fully recovery from the stress fracture in his left ankle, his potential is off the charts. And if he can develop a few go-to moves, he’ll be able to play in multiple schemes, as he can be utilized as a traditional post-man or a pick-and-pop threat. Len also pulled down 11.5 rebounds per-40 minutes last season, which is both impressive and promising, as rebounding is usually the skill that translates best from college to the pros.
Even with supreme offensive tools, Len is nevertheless a project. He needs to add weight and improve his defensive acumen to bang down low, and will need to develop a consistent focus on both ends. Too many times in college he would either disappear in games or get lackadaisical and let his opponent get an easy bucket. But in a League scarce of traditional back to the basket centers, Len is worth the investment for the Mavs, regardless of how the Dwight Howard situation plays out.
On June 27, Alex Len won’t be available at this slot in the Draft, but if he is, make no mistake about it: The Mavs won’t shop the pick, and they won’t stash an international player overseas.
In a no-brainer decision, they’ll eat the $1,655,300 cap hold and take Alex Len.
|2013 SLAMonline Mock Draft|