The Dallas Mavericks have had quite a long history of ups and downs. Ever since the late 1970s, the franchise has been in and out of playoff contention which saw the team rebuilding from time to time. The Mavs had their fair share of luck when it comes to playoff runs and even winning it all once in 2011.
Unfortunately, conference and division titles have been few and far between for the Mavs as they seem to always fall short. But, what Dallas has going for them is a front office that, more often than not, makes the right decision come Draft Day to help build their rosters.
Let’s take a look at the best draft picks in Dallas Mavericks history.
5. Detlef Schrempf (1985)
Detlef Schrempf was one of the first few European stars to make a name for themselves in the league. The Washington Huskies standout was drafted by the Mavs as the eighth overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft and would go on to start his celebrated professional career. The German was a talented and reliable stretch forward and contributed well as part of the Mavs reserve unit. After playing three years for Dallas, the front office decided that it was time to move on from their German project, which seeing how things went down, wasn’t the correct decision.
Unfortunately for the Mavs, Schrempf’s career skyrocketed when he was traded to the Indiana Pacers for Herb Williams in 1989. He was huge for the Pacers and won back-to-back Sixth Man of the Year Awards in 1991 and 1992 and before eventually making his way to the starting unit. Schrempf would, later on, be a crucial part of the Pacers’ playoff runs and would eventually also be a key figure for the Seattle Supersonics, his third NBA team. Nonetheless, it was a great pick for the Mavs which eventually turned out to be an awful trade.
4. Rolando Blackman (1981)
Another solid pick-up for the Dallas Mavericks in the 1980s was sharpshooting guard Rolando Blackman. The Panamanian-American was picked by the Mavs as the ninth overall pick in 1981 and would turn up as a pivotal member of that decade for the franchise. Blackman was a huge offensive weapon for Dallas in their playoffs run in the mid-’80s.
The shooting guard would go on to make it to three straight All-Star Games from 1985-187 and would eventually add another one before he ended his 11-year career with the Mavs. In those 11 seasons, Blackman would average 20.1 points per game and scored a total of 16,643 points which was the franchise record for almost two decades. And, in all of his 865 games for Dallas, Blackman never fouled out of a single game.
The franchise decided to honor Blackman by retiring number 22.
3. Jason Kidd (1994)
Legendary point guard Jason Kidd was the Dallas Maverick’s second overall pick in the 1994 draft and it sure seemed that this kid was destined for greatness throughout his entire career. He had a stellar rookie year and was co-Rookie of the Year along with Grant Hill of the Detroit Pistons. He had an awesome tandem with Jamal Mashburn and Jim Jackson as the Mavs’ main facilitator early in his career. After two full seasons in Dallas, Kidd was moved to the Phoenix Suns for some key guys which, at that time, seemed great for the franchise. He continued to work on his game and slowly inched his way to becoming one of the best point guards in the league which was just further cemented when he found himself as the leader of the New Jersey Nets, leading them to two NBA Finals.
After twelve seasons, ten All-Star selections, and a number of both All-NBA and Defensive First Team nod, Kidd went full circle and moved back to Dallas in 2008. The Hall of Famer was huge for the team both on and off the court and was a pivotal member of the Mavs’ championship team in 2011. Kidd was arguably the best all-around player to ever play for the Mavs until the next person showed up.
2. Luka Doncic (2019)
In a move that would reshape the franchise for possibly the next decade (or two), Dallas GM Donnie Nelson made a transaction with the Atlanta Hawks and traded for their third overall pick which was none other than former EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic. The Mavs ended up with Trae Young who was on his way to Atlanta on draft night. Both young players had outstanding debuts in their rookie campaigns with Doncic edging out Young for the 2019 ROTY Award after averaging 21.2 points per game, six assists and 7.8 rebounds. Not bad for a rookie.
Someway and somehow, Doncic found ways to further improve and bumped up his averages in his second year. He even led the Mavs from a “rebuild year” all the way to the 2020 playoffs. With his stellar all-around game, he even made it to the conversation to win that season’s Most Improved Player as well as having an outside chance to win the MVP Award at the young age of 21. Though we haven’t seen the full potential of Luka Magic, his career so far has proven to be on its way to be legendary for the franchise.
1. Dirk Nowitzki (1998)
Okay so technically, like Doncic, Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t also drafted directly by the Dallas Mavericks in 1998. But the fact that he was moved to the Mavs and would go on to be (arguably) the best to ever play for the franchise, then he deserves to be way up on this list. The Mavs had the sixth pick in that year’s draft and went with University of Michigan phenom Robert “Tractor” Traylor. They ended up trading their lottery pick for Nowitzki who, at that time, was more of a project rather than someone who would give the team instant success. Luckily, the franchise was all-in on that project and proved to be one of the smartest moves in the team’s history.
Dirk would go on to play all of his 21 seasons in the NBA in a Dallas jersey and would write his name multiple times in the record books after an incredible basketball career. The future Hall of Famer was a 14-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA Third Team Member, five-time All NBA Second-Team member, and a four-time All-NBA First Team Member. Basically, he was part of the league’s cream of the crop for the majority of his NBA career. The seven-footer redefined his position as one of the best stretch-forwards in the league and with his patented fadeaway jumper, would go on to be one of the best scorers in NBA history. Nowitzki would be named the league MVP in 2007 and would eventually cap off his career with a championship ring, and a Finals MVP trophy, in 2011.