The Dallas Mavericks entered the Prudential Center for the 2012 NBA Draft with a lone first-round pick (17th overall) and, after orchestrating a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, exited Newark, NJ with three solid players as the team continues its pseudo-rebuilding effort.
Of the three players Dallas ended up with on draft night, the Mavs are most excited about Oregon State guard Jared Cunningham, drafted 24th overall. Head coach Rick Carlisle was especially generous in his praise of the Beavers wing and offered this comparison to the Dallas Morning News:
Carlisle doesn’t like to compare players, but he came up with a doozy when analyzing Cunningham, who is 6-4 and 195 pounds.
“Athletically, he’s similar to a (Russell) Westbrook,” he said. “That’s a lot to put on a kid, but you got to have guys with that kind of speed and quickness to compete with the perimeter players in this league. We’re excited about it.”
Cunningham, who also goes by “Flight,” averaged 17.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg and 2.8 apg for Oregon State in 2011-12, and could be an important play-maker for Dallas next season after perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jason Terry signed with the Boston Celtics in free-agency.
According to a report by the Star-Telegram, Carlisle envisions his new player as someone who can fill the role of scorer off the bench and off the ball:
“I think more and more now in the league we are getting to guys who are playmakers,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “Point guards who can play off the ball, two guards who can make plays with the ball. You have to have guys who can make plays offensively and defensively. So, we see him as a guy who has real dynamic athleticism. He’s got a skill set that has a lot of upside. And we know he is a hard worker.”
Although he is already turning heads, it remains to be seen whether Cunningham is the next Russell Westbrook, a player considered one of the best, if not the best, dynamic young point guards in the game. Still, if he is even a fraction of the talent that Westbrook is, the Mavericks will have themselves a special player and a potential draft day steal after landing him at No. 24.
Got a take on the NBA Draft? Come join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter.
© 2012 Neal J. Leitereg — All Rights Reserved