Can draft make Mavs bigger fish?

The other day, Ben Rogers, he of "Ben & Skin Show" fame, asked ESPN.com's Marc Stein on air if he'd ever seen the cartoon of a little fish swimming along in the ocean that gets eaten by a little bigger fish. And then that fish gets eaten by a bigger fish and so on and so on.

(Strangely, Stein seemed as though he'd never seen such a thing.)

Rogers used the description it to illustrate the Western Conference playoffs, and really, it works perfectly. The Dallas Mavericks were the little fishy swimming along that got swallowed up by the bigger San Antonio Spurs, who were quickly eaten by the bigger Phoenix Suns, who are in the process of being swallowed whole by the biggest fish in the sea, the Los Angeles Lakers.

None of the West playoff proceedings seem to bode well for the Mavs, even with 55 regular-season wins. So, how do the Mavs improve? Well, how about the NBA draft on June 24?

Well, as NBA executives descend on Chicago for the start of the pre-draft camp today, the Mavs are without a first-round pick, scheduled not to make a selection until No. 50, something like the Siberia region of the draft. This year's first-round pick belongs to the New Jersey Nets as the last bit of business from the Jason Kidd trade two years ago.

There's always the chance of moving up into the 20s, grabbing a pick from a team with multiple first-rounders. The Mavs know how to pick back in the pack of the first round, having nabbed players such as Josh Howard in 2003 and Roddy Beaubois last year.

If the Mavs are going to become bigger fish, the draft isn't probably going to provide immediate help. Of course, a week later begins the most anticipated free-agency period in the history of NBA free agency. Not that it provides any oceanic-sized promises either.