DALLAS - For years, the Dallas Mavericks were criticized for "not valuing draft picks.'' Some iterations of owner Mark Cuban's guidance made that true. But in other years, Dallas has "used the draft'' - even when the Mavs didn't "use the pick.''
Didn't "use the pick'' in the sense that the Mavs would sell their slot in the NBA Draft for a chance to get better by traveling down another path of talent acquisition.
As the 2020 NBA Draft looms (Nov. 18), the Mavs' approach includes two paths, sources tell DallasBasketball.com. One is easy and obvious: Be prepared to use picks Nos. 18 and 31 (the first pick in Round 2) on well-researched projects; We're told Dallas has scheduled pre-Draft (virtual) meetings with every single prospect on their Big Board from about the No. 11 guy to the No. 40 guy.
The other path is more challenging but more immediately rewarding: Dallas, contrary to some reports, isn't "waiting until 2021'' to chase greatness (most commonly thought of in the form of possible free-agent-to-be Giannis Antetokounmpo).
The chase is on now. Greatness is the goal now. And trading picks Nos. 18 and 31 for an established NBA player who fits alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis is a front-burner idea inside Mavs HQ.
"(We're) never patient," GM Donnie Nelson said in an exclusive DBcom visit. "Because we want to be as good as we can be ... yesterday. ... We're always looking for every angle. ... It's 'turn over every rock,' and then turn it over three more times just to make sure."
The Luka-and-KP-as-untouchables angle seems self-evident. And so does the idea that most anything else is in play. The biggest obstacle for Dallas working to use its picks to trade for a player is the number of teams seemingly competing to do the same thing, from Golden State (with the No. 2 overall pick) to Boston, which owns three picks (Nos. 14, 26 and 30) that would allow the Celtics to outbid the Mavs in a trade.
Bottom-line, philosophically, for the Mavs: How much does a Bane, a Bey or a Halliburton help the franchise's pursuit of excellence ... vs. how much more easily is that accomplished by acquiring the sort of established NBA player of the sort that Bane, Bey and Halliburton dream of being?
The better path is obvious. But it's obviously more difficult. The Dallas Mavs are preparing to travel both of them.