The Dallas Mavericks will get a player in the first round of the draft for a third time in four years. They hope tonight's No. 17 pick can be inserted directly into the rotation next season.
But what about the futures of the previous two first-rounders? A draft-day deal netted No. 25 Rodrigue Beaubois in 2009, and Dallas paid $3 million to the Memphis Grizzlies to select Dominique Jones in 2010. If the Mavs land Deron Williams in free agency, both players could be swept up in cap-clearing trades. If Williams doesn't come to Dallas, the Mavs must figure out how to best utilize both young players that have yet to find a home at either guard spot.
For all the flashes of promise from Beaubois, he played all of 12 minutes in the four-game sweep to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Jones couldn't beat out recently acquired Kelenna Azubuike for a spot on the playoff roster despite Azubuike having been out of the league since 2009.
The broken left foot saga plagued Beaubois for two seasons, and who knows how badly it set back his confidence and development. The more critical question about Beaubois as he enters his fourth season is if he has the inner drive to become a top-flight talent, the type of ceiling the franchise once believed was within reach for the French-speaking youngster from the tiny island of Guadeloupe.
Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said he believes Beaubois, finally healthy enough to train for the full summer, has the desire and toughness to excel, and that he's been the victim of a veteran logjam in the backcourt.
"Yes, the injury really set him back," Nelson said. "There’s another late first-round pick that’s quick as a cat, upside and again you’re stuck behind one of the greatest point guards to ever play (Jason Kidd), and then Delonte (West) really did some nice stuff for us this year and we certainly have to figure out a way to get him minutes. So in fairness to Roddy, the injury set him back -- it’s been a little bit disjointed in terms of playing time as a result of that -- but last year he really helped us win some games, and we’re really looking forward to him building on this past year."
As for Jones heading into his third season, he has been a forgotten man for two years. He's seen more PT with the D-League Texas Legends than the Mavs. And it can't be a good sign when Azubuike, who played just three games after being picked up in late March, gets the last roster spot in the playoffs. Jones is a combo guard who can get to the basket but he has virtually no perimeter jumper.
Nelson said Jones is working at point guard this summer with coach Rick Carlisle. Yet, it would seem the only chance he has of earning minutes at the point is if the Mavs lose out on Williams and Kidd follows him to Brooklyn. Shooting guard could offer more opportunity with Jason Terry and West (who plays both guard spots) both potentially leaving via free agency and Vince Carter not yet assured of returning.
"Here’s a 25th pick in the draft that hasn’t really seen the light of day," Nelson said of Jones. "He’s a player. We’re excited about him and he’s really working on his jump shot. Rick is playing him at the point, which is really exciting because at 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5, he can really get in there and make stuff happen and really initiate our draw-and-kick game."
Still, the Mavs could select a shooting guard such as Austin Rivers or Terrence Ross or a point guard such as Kendall Marshall tonight in the draft, picks that would seemingly immediately pass Jones and possibly Beaubois, too, on the depth chart. And then there's the prospects in free agency.
At least in a few more days, both players' situations will become a bit more clear.