Back on draft night 2018, the trajectory of the Dallas Mavericks franchise changed forever. As Dirk Nowitzki’s legendary career was coming to an end, the team stumbled into its next cornerstone piece.
Armed with the fifth overall pick, the Mavs were in a prime position to land a high-end prospect. After selecting Trae Young, they later made a trade with the Atlanta Hawks to acquire Luka Doncic. From there, the Slovenian guard has become one of the league’s top talents.
With the five year anniversary of this draft slowly approaching, the people at Bleacher Report decided to do a re-draft. In the new scenario, the Mavericks walk away with three-and-D wing Mikal Bridges.
Over the last two seasons, Bridges has averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.6 threes and 1.1 steals while shooting 39.7 percent from deep. He’s generally been assigned to every opponent’s most difficult perimeter assignment on defense, too.
As an added bonus, Bridges is already among the game’s legitimate iron men. He has yet to miss a single game in his NBA career.
In three of his first four NBA seasons, Bridges has led the league in games played. Last season for the Suns, he averaged 14.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 1.2 SPG while shooting 36.9% from beyond the arc.
Luka Doncic Goes No. 1 in 2018 Re-Draft
At 23 years old, Luka Doncic has already cemented himself among the upper echelon of NBA superstars. In four seasons, he has been named an All-Star three times and appeared on three All-NBA teams. In 65 games last year, Doncic averaged 28.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 8.7 APG.
As expected, Doncic came off the board with the first pick in Bleacher Report’s re-draft. His career arc continues to draw parallels to LA Lakers star LeBron James.
Less than 20 years after LeBron James debuted in the NBA, his heir apparent may have already arrived from Slovenia.
Not long into his rookie campaign, it became clear he was the sun around which his teams would orbit for the foreseeable future. He can score at will or engineer open shots for teammates. He’s among the best guard rebounders we’ve ever seen. And in the 2022 playoffs, we got a glimpse of what he would look like when committed to defense.
Mavs Urged to Reunite With Dennis Smith Jr.
Heading into this season, one of the biggest storylines for the Mavericks early on will be how they fill the void of Jalen Brunson. After a breakout campaign in 2022, the former second-round pick signed with the New York Knicks in free agency.
With Brunson walking away for nothing, lack of guards is a current weak point on the roster. As a possible short-term solution, Sports Illustrated’s Dalton Trigg proposed the idea of Dallas reuniting with Dennis Smith Jr. in free agency.
With training camp one month away, the Mavs should consider bringing Dennis Smith Jr. back to Dallas … not only because he possess the tools to potentially help the Mavs with their current biggest roster need, but because he still has great relationships with Doncic and Dorian Finney-Smith as well. It also helps that Smith Jr. has shown a desire to reunite with the Mavs on multiple occasions over the last few years.
Smith Jr. spent the first two years of his career in Dallas after being drafted ninth overall in 2017. He played in 101 games in that span and averaged 14.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 4.9 APG.