Good salesmen don't denigrate the competition. So Dallas' Chris Paul Pitch doesn't need to mention…
DONUT 1: On the island ... Regardless of what led you to your draft-day placement, it's a singularity, an island cutoff from all but the here-and-now: a moment disconnected from the hurt of the past or anxieties over the future. It's an oasis of hope, a moment given to the outlandish idealizations of distant dreams … a realm where stars burst from the dark, born into existence to nourish new worlds of possibility.
Or, for teams that find themselves in the lottery with picks high enough to chase coveted prospects, it should be.
DONUT 2: I hate the dump ... Fed by the rumors of a "dump" that would include pick 13 and Shawn Marion, the emotions for many Mavs fans – this one included – have swirled around something far different than hope. Rather, on top of the stink of a decade littered with draft-day failures mixed with any thoughts of a current deal that could aptly include the word "dump," rested a healthy dose of trepidation and fear.
In the past 10 years, Josh Howard and Devin Harris are the only legitimate Dallas Mavericks first-round success stories (which excludes guys cut during a season (Dominique Jones), or who won't have qualifying offers extended at the conclusion of their rookie deals (Roddy Beaubois)). The most recent first-round success came when Dallas traded for the rights to Harris in 2004 … when "Shrek 2'' was the top grossing movie, Tyson Chandler was still on the Bulls with Eddy Curry, and, unless our math is off, Jae Crowder wasn't even born yet (OK, that last one isn't true).
The Mavs front office has earned the benefit of the doubt in a lot of areas. Unfortunately, the draft isn't one of them. Although a significant portion of this can be attributed to the approach of a near contender, and eventual champion, that placed little importance on first-round picks beyond acquiring ready-to-contribute veterans, the track record can't be ignored.
When national stories surfaced of intentions to waste assets such as Marion and the 13th pick as toxins to be purged, polluting the path to "space," rather than medications to be capitalized upon as tools towards success, regardless of the lack of logic included, draft-day history made them impossible to simply ignore.
When names like Maurice Ager, Dominique Jones, or – please forgive us – Rudy Fernandez (acquired on a draft-day trade) come to mind, there is no comfort to be found. When we watch former dumpee Corey Brewer, there is precedence for our fears.
We found our footing heading into the draft scratching to climb a slippery slope resistant to the staking of our hopes.
DONUT 3: Enjoyable chaos ... Then the draft begin with a chaotic frenzy, with Nerlens Noel sliding all the way to the sixth spot, Ben McLemore slipping to seventh, and point guards, most notably Michael Carter-Williams, floating towards the shore of the Mavs initial pick at 13.
Carter-Williams ended up coming off the board at 11, and the writing appeared to be on the wall: Dallas wanted to move back … and move back they did, twice.
The Mavs dealt the 13th pick to Boston in return for the 16th and a pair of future second rounders. They then moved the newly acquired 16th pick to Atlanta, moving back two spots to 18 and dumping Jared Cunningham (as well as his $1,208,400 cap number) and their second-round pick (44) in this year's draft in the process.
In cap-hold terms, this was the path of the Mavs: from $1,655,300 at 13 to $1,419,200 at 16 and finally to $1,280,800 at the 18th spot … a savings of $374,500 by moving back five spots. Add the savings from moving Cunningham, and the Mavs shaved $1,582,900 off the number they began the night at.
In other words, they dumped the just about the original cost of the 13th pick … strange how things work out. With the cap hold for an empty roster spot ($490,180 replacing Cunningham's salary) and the hold for the 18th pick replacing that of the 13th, the total savings in comparison to the beginning of the night is $1,092,720.00.
As Dirk says, "It was a circus.''
More on the Mavs' cap status from our David Lord is here.
DONUT 4: The part about the player ... So, what about the player that ended up getting with that 18th pick ... Shane Larkin, out of the University of Miami?
Larkin is monstrously athletic. He posted the second best max-vertical of players measured for this draft at 44 inches, finished seventh in "agility" (10.64), second in "sprint" (3.08) per DraftExpress.com.
Also per DraftExpress.com, Larkin "created more combined points on the pick-and-roll for himself and his teammates last season than any prospect in the country at 14.3 points per-game … his jumpshot, ranked as the second most efficient in this group at 1.137 points per-shot, and showed excellent command of the ball, turning the ball over on just 11.3% of his possessions creating in the two-man game."
Larkin played in a pro-style offense with the Hurricanes, and will join a team with Dirk Nowitzki. We don't have to look far for players who were able to capitalize on the advantage of playing off of Dirk in the two-man game, see JJ Barea and Jason Terry.
In this respect, he may already show more of a fit beside Dirk than Darren Collison or OJ Mayo ever did.
DONUT 5: The negatives ... His size is an issue, standing just over 5-11 in shoes (think JJ Barea as a player of comparable height), and is the most glaring concern when looking at the measurables of Larkin.
Larkin's numbers last year with Miami: 36.4 minutes, 14.5 points, 47.9 field-goal percentage, 40.6 3-point percentage, 4.6 assists, 2.0 steals, 2.3 turnovers, and didn't get to the line too much, averaging just 3.1 free-throw attempts per game.
DONUT 6: So, what's our eval? ... In the end, was this a good move?
In some ways, it was. While moving back five spots, they netted one additional future second-round pick (gaining two when moving from 13 to 16 and giving away one in the deal for 18), and were able to dump Cunningham while drafting a player many like … thus also retaining the asset of that player/pick for moves in the near future, if so desired.
We've got tons of Draft Night coverage here, including Video Visits with Rick, Donnie and Dirk.
DONUT 7: In a vacuum ... A couple of times in the last week, DB.com used the phrase "in a vacuum.'' The meaning? Evaluating picks, players, decisions cannot be done simply by stacking names or concepts on a board.
What's the cost? What's the fit? Is Marion still here? Is a bid on Bynum worth it? Can Gal Mekel play? Do the Mavs like Monta? Are Houston's odds on Dwight to great to overcome?
It's not a copout to say, "It depends.'' Because these decisions can not be successfully made in a vacuum.
DONUT 8: Marion status ... The Mavs have worked to persuade Shawn Marion that the exercising of his ETO and the security of a wink-wink return worth three years and $18 million is the right play. But ... 'We think Shawn is going to stand pat,' a Mavs source says. 'Which is his right.' So Trix will get his money ... and probably, his terrific Mavs career might be nearing its end.
Need another defensive-minded swingman? DB.com has the details of Monday talks with Andre Iguodala ... and the hitch that exists in pursuing a deal.
DONUT 9: DB.com's Rondo scoop ... The Mavericks are engaging in trade talks involving Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, sources tell DallasBasketball.com. Meanwhile, Dallas is also investigating bids on point guards Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings – and we've got the scoop on what's happening with all three. (Three among the many PGs on Dallas' exploratory list.)
The inside stuff ... for Mavs Premium Fans ... is here.
More PG info here, too: What have the Mavs done with Collison and Roddy B?
DONUT 10: It's all about Dwight ... We've got the Mavs' plans and travels and thoughts covered from every angle ... Starting with the club being told that Paul is off the shopping shelves, boosting DH to the No. 1 spot.
There's How does Dallas match up, cap-wise, with Houston? There's "Was Dwight in Houston on Friday doing some house-hunting?'' And there's more, as it happens, here on DB.com Boards and on Twitter as well.
Dallas' meeting with Dwight is Tuesday. The Mavs bat fourth, after Houston, the Warriors and the Hawks, with the Lakers getting to close the meetings after the Mavs.
A backup plan to Dwight? DB.com has the exclusive story on Dallas' thoughts on Andrew Bynum as it relates to something called "Exhibit 3.'' Know the rule, and you will find the oft-injured Bynum more intriguing.
As Rick Carlisle himself said, "Stay tuned.''
DONUT 11: So, positive but ... In another way? Draft night came with a negative shroud.
Beyond the fact that they were able to keep a first-round pick, they were forced to deal a second-rounder to simply dump the guy they moved back in the first round of last year's draft for nothing more than minimal savings … basically admitting those minor savings were more valuable than Cunningham.
For most, this collection of moves is unlikely to shake the feelings of "less-than-exciting" draft nights for the Mavs. There was no splash. No, shake-your-fists-in-elation moment … but, as we flip and flap about trying to get a grip: on the positive side, with most of the ideal targets already off the board at 13, perhaps there was no slamming your fists into something in utter frustration either.
Debate will remain over the pick itself, whether Larkin was the right choice or not, or perhaps, whether a guy like Gorgui Dieng, Tim Hardaway Jr, or anyone else would have been the better selection. (And we'll eventually debate the merits of second-rounder Ricky Ledo, too.)
It's not a homerun, nor is it a complete strikeout.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ... What it is … we'll have to wait and see … especially as things continue to evolve.
Mark Cuban says there were draft-day deals being discussed that would've usurped the pursuit of Dwight. So they were wide-open and continue to be.
And our minds are wide-open as well.
If Larkin and Ledo are small accomplishments on the way to larger accomplishments, we'll easily look back on draft night fondly. Hanging around the AAC right about the same time was Gal Mekel -- not a draftee but a new kid, so close enough. We already know the Mavs were successful with Mekel in terms of cap cleverness. If he can play, more fondness.
In general: Picking up draftees seems more pleasurable than picking out dumpees. And amid some hopeful optimism starting today, the July 1 opening of the Mavs free-agent shopping season, seems pleasurable, too.
DONUT 13: Thanks, Studio Movie Grill! ...
A great partner with us in charitable work and a great place to get a movie and a meal ... thanks for the DB.com relationship, Studio Movie Grill!