Dallas Mavericks: OG Anunoby Could Be a Draft Steal

With the Dallas Mavericks pushing for the playoffs, dreams of landing a top pick in the draft are fading. But could they still land a star in OG Anunoby?

Last year, Indiana University made a small run in the bracket by advancing to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to eventual runner-up, the North Carolina Tar Heels. Who were the two best players on that Indiana team?

Yogi Ferrell and OG Anunoby.

Ferrell went on to be undrafted and Anunoby came back for his sophomore year where he started the year as one of the top 20 prospects in the NCAA.

After starting a stellar sophomore year, Anunoby suffered a season ending knee injury against Peen State on January 18th. Now his draft stock is in question as the possibility of him going back to school for his junior year is still an option.

But what if he still declares for the 2017 NBA Draft? ESPN’s Chad Ford says he shouldn’t drop too far.

“While this clearly affects Anunoby’s draft stock, it doesn’t hurt him as much as you might think. A quick poll of NBA GMs had him dropping anywhere from five to 10 spots. We’ve dropped him just five, in part because there’s a pretty big drop-off in the draft after Rabb.” Ford said.

After the injury, ESPN dropped him to 17th on their big board while Draft Express dropped him to 25th on theirs.

Now, factor in that if Dallas gets close to the playoffs or even makes the playoffs, they will have a pick in the range of 13-16 and the Mavericks will be right around Anunoby range.

This is where they could grab a top 10 talent in what would be a draft steal for the Mavs.

Positives

In today’s NBA, having a wing that can play both small forward and power forward is crucial and Anunoby can provide exactly that.

Standing at an impressive 6’8″, 235 pounds, Anunoby has the body frame to compete in the NBA now. When I asked Yogi Ferrell about the first thing he thinks about when I say his old teammate’s name, he mentioned his physical frame.

“Big tree trunk legs [laughs]. He’s got one of the biggest legs I have ever seen. He is a powerful guy when he gets in there. He takes up a lot of space, he’s got athleticism that is unbelievable.”

Draft Express says that he has a reported 7’6″ wingspan.

Anunoby is always praised for his physical tools, but his defense and long-range shooting looks to translate very well to the next level. When I asked Ferrell who Anunoby might relate to in the NBA, I mentioned maybe a shade of Kawhi Leonard when he came into the league.

“I say a little bit [like Leonard] just in terms of his length and athleticism, defensive ability. But he is young, and he has a lot to learn. I think that comes with time and being at Indiana under Coach Crean,” Ferrell said.

During his freshman season, Anunoby shot 44% from behind the arc. His percentage went down to 31% during his sophomore year but he was also shooting them at a higher clip. Anunoby shot 29 threes his freshman year and had already shot 45 before his season ending injury this year.

I am a huge fan of Anunoby and believe he is a better version of Al-Farouq Aminu with a better offensive game.

Here is his full draft profile strengths from Draft Express.

Negatives

The season ending knee injury is big for a player that relies so much on their athleticism.

The injury looks like a similar situation to Nerlens Noel and C.J. McCullough over the past 3-5 years. Both players dropped some in the first round, but ultimately went just 5-8 picks back from where they were originally projected.

With the injury being the knee, it will scare off some teams, but teams willing to take the chance on a home run, he would be worth the risk and recovery. Anunoby talked recently with Ferrell where Yogi gave him some advice that he read from Kobe Bryant.

“Yeah, I talked to him. He was a little shocked when it happened,” Ferrell said. “I read something that Kobe said to Derek Carr when he got hurt. ‘Dominate Recovery’. That’s it. That’s all he can do at this point right now and get back as quick as possible.”

Some scouts also question Anunoby’s playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. He doesn’t have the best ball handling skills and is still developing his offensive game. This is what separates him from the wing players above him such as Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum.

The Fit

If Dallas is drafting in the 13-16 range of the draft, picking the best talent on the board (no matter the roster need) should be the number one goal.

When you look at other prospects who could be on the board in that range, you could see names such as Ivan Rabb and Robert Williams. Even if you have to wait through the recovery, grabbing a potential lottery talent at that spot would be a steal.

I believe Anunoby would be a better long-term prospect than Dorian Finney-Smith and would come off the bench behind Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews when he is able to play. Long-term, he could play the four position next to Barnes and Nowitzki in the front court.

A 3-and-D guy with the physical tools of Anunoby don’t come across your first round draft board every year. If Dallas is picking in the middle of the first round and Anunoby is on the board, they should grab one of the steals of the draft.

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