The Dallas Mavericks are no stranger to draft-night trades and their propensity to swap picks continued Thursday night as the franchise sent the 17th overall pick to the Cleveland Cavilers. In return, the Mavs received the 24, 33 and 34 overall selections.
One of the oldest teams in the league attempted to get younger by using the 24th pick on Oregon State combo guard Jared Cunningham. The 21-year-old averaged 17.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists last season as a junior.
The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder played shooting guard in college but is considered a bit undersized to play the same position full-time at the NBA level. Cunningham, who scored a career-high 37 in a 100-95 overtime victory over Texas in November, is known for his perimeter defense and athletic ability.
“I feel like I’m a great combo guard,” Cunningham told DraftExpress.com earlier this month. “If a team needs me to play at [point guard], I can do that. If they need me to play [shooting guard], I think I can do that too.”
Cunningham described himself as having a “mixture” of Shannon Brown’s athleticism, Monta Ellis’s quickness and Avery Bradley’s defense.
North Carolina big man Tyler Zeller was the selection at No. 17. Before being informed of the trade, he briefly wore a Mavericks hat and talked about how he would enjoy playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki.
A significant addition on draft night has been rare territory for the Mavericks since Nowitzki became the face of the franchise in the late 1990s.
During the 1998 draft, the Mavs selected Robert Traylor with the sixth overall pick. That same night, Traylor was shipped to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for the draft rights to Nowitzki, who was selected with the ninth overall pick.
Since then, the Mavericks’ first-round picks have been spent on Etan Thomas, Josh Howard, Maurice Ager, Byron Mullens and Jordan Hamilton. Only Howard made a memorable impact, averaging at least 18 points per game during three consecutive seasons from 2006-2009. Howard was then a key piece in the 2010 trade that brought Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson over from the Washington Wizards.
Last year, Hamilton was traded in a three-team deal that landed Rudy Fernandez in Dallas even though he never played a game with the Mavs. In 2009, Mullens was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Rodrigue Beaubois and 2010 second-rounder Solomon Alabi.