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NBA Draft Profile: Could Walker Kessler Fill Mavs' Rim Protection Need?

Instead of free agency or trades, the Dallas Mavericks might be able to fix their big man concerns in the NBA Draft.

The Dallas Mavericks have several tough choices ahead of them this offseason. Some are even calling this one of the more pivotal summers in recent memory. Dallas made an impressive run to the Western Conference Finals, but GM Nico Harrison isn't satisfied with that success in his first year on the job.

One of the most glaring needs facing the team from last year's playoff run is an interior presence, specifically when it comes to rebounding. The Mavericks were out-rebounded by the Utah Jazz in the first round 269-226. This was followed by being out-rebounded by over 50 rebounds against the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals. Finally, Golden State led the rebound category in the Western Conference Finals 234-177.

Those rebounding stats speak for themselves. The Mavericks' defensive rankings were some of the best in recent team history. However, they definitely could have used more help on the glass. There are ways for Dallas to address this need in free agency or potential trades, but perhaps they can fill the void with their No. 26 pick in the NBA Draft, which will begin on June 23.

One big man target that has been linked to Dallas in recent mock drafts is Walker Kessler. He is a 7-1, 245 center out of Auburn. This year, as a sophomore, the 20-year-old big man averaged 11.4 pts and 8.1 rebounds in roughly 25 minutes of play for the Tigers. He also averaged an astounding 4.6 blocks per game. Shot-blocking is something Harrison is looking to add to the Mavs' roster this summer.

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“We need some rim protection. That’s one thing that we don’t have a lot of on our team," said Harrison candidly on the Ben and Skin Show earlier this week. "I think that’s the easiest thing to say."

Kessler seems to fit the need the Mavericks are looking for, not only on the court, but off it as well with the salary cap restraints they may be facing while trying to retain some of their upcoming free agents – most importantly, Jalen Brunson. This would give them some length in the paint, as well as a defensive anchor to contest shots at the rim.

Kessler is currently ranked 39th on top 100 draft prospects. This bodes well for the possibility of him being available when Dallas is on the clock. He is by no means a guarantee to come to Dallas, but based on the number he put up in college, the potential of this young man is undeniable.