The Dallas Mavericks are coming off of a very disappointing season. After making it into the Western Conference Finals in 2022, they failed to make the 2023 NBA Play-In Tournament, and hence the 2023 NBA Playoffs. They have officially turned to the offseason where they have two priorities: re-signing Kyrie Irving and the No. 1o pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. While retaining Irving is less under their control, who the Mavs target in the draft is firmly within their jurisdiction. Given how this season played out, the Mavs would be wise to target guys in the 2023 NBA Draft who can battle down low.
The Mavs were the worst rebounding team in the NBA this season. They averaged 38.8 rebounds per game, almost two whole rebounds behind the second worst rebounding team in the Brooklyn Nets. Their top rebounder was Luka Doncic by a wide margin; it is rare that a team would want their best rebounder to be their main facilitator. Not to mention, they got abysmal scoring production from the paint. Christian Wood underwhelmed to the tune of 16.6 points per game after he was traded to fill a big scoring role down low. The next highest scorer out of the Mavs bigs was Dwight Powell, who put up a meager 6.7 points per game. It is clear that the overall production from the Mavs bigs was not up to a standard needed to return to the Western Conference Finals. This is why the Mavs needs to target versatile big men in the 2023 NBA Draft.
There are three players in particular that the Mavs can target at the No.10 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft who should be available. Here are those three players ranked from lowest to highest priority.
*Stats via ESPN
3. Kris Murray, F, Iowa
Kris Murray played three seasons for the Iowa Hawkeyes, blossoming last year while becoming a primary scorer for his squad. Over 29 games, Murray averaged 20.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, all the while shooting 47.6% from the field. This is the type of scoring threat that could develop into a key piece alongside Luka Doncic. Not to mention, he shot 33.5% from beyond the arc; this isn’t the best of percentages, but it is enough to spread the floor and give Luka or Kyrie space when they need it.
His 7.9 rebounds leaves something to be desired, although this should solve itself as he continues to grow into an NBA body. Murray is 6’8, 220, and could probably put on around 10 pounds of muscle to make him a more dominant presence on the glass. Either way, the 22-year-old will have plenty of time to grow into his frame, and will arrive as an immediate threat to score the ball. Although he isn’t the top target for the Mavs in the draft, he would be a great pick if he’s available.
2. Taylor Hendricks, F, UCF
In the 2022-2023 season, there was no one as much of a workhorse as UCF freshman Taylor Hendricks. He started all of UCF’s 34 games, only one of two players on the roster to do so. He also ended up playing in 1,179 minutes over the course of the season, the second-most in a single season in UCF history. This is the exact type of energy the Mavs need to install into their front court, and they would be getting it from a player who is only 19-years-old.
Besides the fact that the Mavs would be getting a much needed spark at the rim, he also fits all the intangibles the Mavs need from a production standpoint. As a freshman, Hendricks led the UCF Knights in scoring (15.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg); he shot 39.4% from beyond the arc and had 59 blocks to lead the conference. Hendricks was one of the best big men in the country at just 19, and would fill the Mavs paint needs conclusively. Not only do the Mavs need offense and rebounds to come from their big men more often, but they were a very below average defensive team in 2022-23 as well. Hendricks could arrive at 19 and be a dominating presence in protecting the rim for years to come in Dallas.
1. Jarace Walker, F, Houston
Houston forward Jarace Walker is above Taylor Hendricks on this list because he would arrive in Dallas already possessing NBA size. The same age and height as Hendricks, Walker is 6’8 but 25 pounds heavier than the UCF forward, and it is all muscle. Hendricks might be a better scoring prospect, but that is not the primary need for the Mavs. They will get plenty of scoring from Luka and Kyrie, if he stays, and need a big man who primarily hounds the glass and protects the paint. Walker figures to be more dominant in both of those categories than Hendricks.
Walker would arrive in the NBA with a frame that would already challenge the rest of the NBA bigs in the dirty work the Mavs need. Although Hendricks could score, there is potential he could be bullied in the paint for much of the early years in his career. Since this is not a concern for Walker, he could spend more time developing his offensive game, albeit it being not too shabby either. He showed this in a game against Cincinnati in the 2022-2023 season, as he went off for 25 points on 10/14 shooting. Overall, Jarace Walker should be the Mavs primary target at the No. 10 pick in the NBA Draft.