Donuts: Mavs Draft Words I've Longed To Hear!
DONUT 1: The appeal of 'stubborn' ...
"What I do know, at least what I think I have learned from my experiences in business," Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wrote a year ago, "is that when there is a rush for everyone to do the same thing, it becomes more difficult to do. Not easier. Harder. It also means that as other teams follow their lead, it creates opportunities for those who have followed a different path.
"I see quite a few teams taking what appears to be the same approach to building a team. I can understand why they are taking this approach. In the current CBA the value of a player chosen in the draft can be considerable because of the defined contract terms. And if you put together some great young players, it is very enticing to want to keep those players together for a long period.
"But I also know that even if you have the worst record in the NBA, you may not get the top pick and even if you do, there is a material chance you pick the wrong player, or it just happens to be a draft when there are not any IDENTIFIABLE superstar potential players at the top of the draft.
"In other words, while it may be popular I think the quantity of teams taking the same approach makes it more difficult to build a team in this manner."
That's Mark's long-standing philosophy on the draft. It's interesting. It's non-linear. And - having not survived the test of time - wrong.
DONUT 2: Self-fulfilling prophecy ...
My reaction now to Mark's view is as it was a year ago ... a disappointed one.
Somewhere in there Cuban is referring to "tanking." That is a different discussion. But in trying to buck the trend of using the NBA draft is a serious tool for building, the Mavericks have been "bucking'' unnecessarily.
Every tool is important. Building is critically important. Why are the Mavs willing to come across as being so nonchalant about something so important? Why am I not amused when I Google "Mark Cuban draft'' and all I get are pictures of Brittney Griner?
DONUT 3: Excuse-making? ...
The above comments don't sound like explanations to me; they almost sound like excuses. Had the Mavs hit on Roddy B or Moe Ager or Jared Cunningham or DoJo, would they still be telling us that the draft is less important than we think it is? Or would they be patting themselves on the back for their draft-related brilliance?
These sort of comments could be interpreted as the Mavs, in advance, creating a soft place for them to land when they fail yet again on Thursday. "Why even try to do something so difficult?'' they seem to be saying. "We might not get the pick we want or we might not pick the right player or there might not even be a player worth having. ... So why invest any great effort especially when everybody else is doing the exact same thing plus flooding the marketplace with buyers where there aren't enough products?"
DONUT 4: Crappy effort? ...
I have made these points in this space before. A year ago, I wrote:
Let's recognize that this view is nothing inspired by the new CBA or by the Mavs' current situation. In truth, the Mavs have blown off the draft with such reasoning/excuse-making for years. Crappy effort has produced results in kind, and then each of those bad picks - coming from the organization's own lack of ability and effort - has been filed in their own minds as further proof that "drafting is too hard to do well."
When it comes to the draft, the Mavs now seemingly believe that poor results are "to be expected" rather than something to be corrected. A self-perpetuating mindset of failed-draft inevitability is in place.
Here we are a year later. Has anything changed?
Well, suddenly, yes. Mark Cuban is now uttering the draft-related words I've longed to hear. Read on ...
DONUT 5: What does it say about Shane? ...
I refuse to believe that last year's selection of Shane Larkin in the first round was some sort of unimportant joke. Knowing Carlisle's investment in that process, I simply won't believe that. Read DallasBasketball.com's exhaustive listing of the "secret'' predraft workouts at the AAC and tell me this: If the draft doesn't matter, why did Dallas bother to take such a close look at so many second-round prospects? Fish has also written about Donnie Nelson and Keith Grant spending time everywhere from Bosnia to Italy in search of talent.
Why bother? Why spend the time, the money, the effort, the resources?
Obviously, somebody inside Mavs HQ has been trying to take this draft process seriously. A year ago, the club saw the need for change to such a degree that it hired a new personnel boss in Gerson Rosas. That idea had promise and it demonstrated that Mark's words aside, in ACTIONS he was dedicated to letting new blood find new answers.
Alas, Rosas seemingly realizes he didn't have the power base he hoped he would, and The Rosas Era lasted, like a couple of weeks or something.
DONUT 6: And suddenly ... Change! ...
But now, thanks to a recent "Ben & Skin'' interview on 105.3 The Fan, we have a Mark Cuban concession, in a sense, a break from the stubbornness, an observation of a frailty.
Says Mark: "We value the draft. But we value the draft more now than we did before. We have better information ... You have to put a premium on draft picks just because of the financial implications. Before, they were more of a tool to get an established player.
"We've just missed. We always try to re-evaluate. ... I can make the excuse that we haven't had a high draft pick or the draft wasn't very good. It still doesn't matter. Since Devin, we haven't had a lot of successes.''
Thank you, Mark Cuban. Thank you for seeing it. Thank you for saying it. Thank you for pledging, essentially, to do it.
DONUT 7: Filling room ...
Very obviously, the Mavs roster isn't what it once was and that should help the front office realize that picks should not be given away for "room.'' Rather, good picks can be made to fill that room.
I said that before last year's draft. I said it before this year's draft. I'll say it again next summer ... and now Mark Cuban is saying it with me.
"Before, they were more of a tool to get an established player.''
But now? Cuban is conceding that Dallas sees the draft as the way to DRAFT A FUTURE ESTABLISHED PLAYER.
DONUT 8: That model again ...
There's no need to argue about this anymore, but rather, a need to re-state my long-held views on it:
Draft picks are coveted assets by some teams, the ones that know how to use those picks expertly. The Mavs can be one of those teams. ... And as sick as we all are about having to concede this, be a model for how to achieve in this area is located south on I-35.
As is the case for modeling in most areas in which the Mavericks would like to succeed. Yes, Jason Garrett, I guess we do all need to be more Spurs-like.
DONUT 9: The Cancer Within ...
There are a number of traits shared by the four men who are central to the running of the Mavericks. But consider this in regard to Cuban, Donnie, Rick and Dirk:
They are driven in large part by positivity.
Cuban allowed himself to dream of being rich.
Donnie is a "Hail fellow well met," one of basketballs most sunny ambassadors.
Carlisle values positivity from a psychological bent.
And Dirk is Dirk, one of the most appreciatively humble "Everyman" superstars in sports history.
It therefore has always mystified me that in any area at all this organization would allow negativity to seep in. Yet Mark's previously uttered comments regarding the draft reek of negativity. And over the course of the last decade or so, as he notes, the results generally stink, too.
DONUT 10: Games within games ..
Here is the challenge - and if I were to present this to Mark in person rather than in print, here's exactly how I would present it: Take the challenge.
WIN THE DRAFT!
At times in sports, teams that don't make moves in the off-season like to joke about the competition that did succeed by saying, "They are the champions of the summer." Or, "Congratulations, they won the off-season."
These are loser's laments.
It's time for Dallas to learn to win the draft game. To see it as its own self-contained competition even as it feeds the greater competition. The Mavs went into last summer trying to win the free-agency game with Dirk as a recruiter. They attempted to do so all the way up the mountain with the likes of LeBron James. The Chandler Parsons acquisition was a competition with Houston. The get of Tyson Chandler feels like a win over the Knicks, in the Mavs' minds. They will try to win the technology game and the medical-and-training game and of course the on-court game. They employ one of the best players ever and one of the best coaches ever and they have top-notch facilities ...
Why not try to "win the draft"?
DONUT 11: Go Mavs, Go Premium! ...
This draft is behind us. Free agency is, too. Our focus again turns to the Mavs and training camp and the start of a new season. And again, we'll share with you all the inside tips as we encounter them, to keep you abreast of the Mavs as they work to improve going forward. You can be a part of it via the depth of DB.com Archives and with 24-hour-a-day discussion on DB.com Boards. And we appreciate your enjoyment of and contribution to DallasBasketball.com on whatever level you choose.
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DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
I also said a year ago and it bears repeating: the first time I ever read Mark Cuban use the phrase "headline porn" was in a conversation with DB.com's Mike Fisher. I am very much in line with Mark on that concern and hope the reader understand that we work hard to avoid such foolishness. So no "headline porn" here. Just a sincere wish that the Mavericks treat the process of the draft with seriousness, devotion and positivity ...
And the sincere appreciation of Mark Cuban for saying that they will.