Mavericks' Draft Target Analysis: The Small Forwards

So we're five days away from the NBA draft, and it seems like the most likely positions Dallas will drafting will be from either the pool of shooting or point guards available. However, that does not mean they are not looking at some very real options at other positions. One position that could use a lot of depth is the three slot: the small forward position. Chandler Parsons is clearly the starting man in Dallas for at least the next two seasons (probably the next three), but since he is coming off of major knee surgery, he's going to need some help from guys behind him. Dallas could always do what they're notorious for and bring in a veteran man who can still contribute for the minimum, but making use of the draft this year could make a lot of sense. There aren't many small forwards Dallas will have the luxury of choosing from at 21, but these two prospects have plenty of talent and can contribute from day one if necessary. Let's delve into these two intriguing players:

Justin Anderson

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Anderson, a 6'6 junior out of the University of Virginia, is a prime candidate for the Mavericks at 21. Justin Anderson's junior stats are nothing spectacular, but they're a good starting point: 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. Anderson is nearly 22 years old, something Dallas is clearly intrigued by. The Mavs don't love drafting the youngest players available for many reasons, but 22 is the perfect age for a rookie in Carlisle's system. Anderson's incredible physical build gives him an advantage when getting to the rim: he can bully his way through the paint and then explode to finish. He doesn't have prime ball-handling skills, but he has the quickness and speedy first step to blow by weaker, slower players guarding him. Anderson's sophomore season, he shot 29% from the three point line, but that took a terrific turn upwards to 45% in his junior season, something that could help him find his way into a Dallas jersey. Anderson's main source of three point buckets came in catch and shoot situations, and Dallas needs that kind of knock down shooter. Anderson  has all of the physical make up of a great defender and can be with just a little bit of tune up. Anderson does not have solid playmaking skills, and for a player of his size, he should be able to pull down more rebounds than he does, but those are the only two primary weaknesses in his game. In a league that seems to be transforming into a "position-less" one, Anderson fits the bill. He is strong enough, big enough, and fast enough to guard nearly every position on the floor apart from the centers. If necessary, Anderson can play the 2 or the 4 position, but his most comfortable and effective spot will remain at the small forward when he enters the association. Anderson reminds me a lot of Draymond Green (whom the Mavs passed on ironically), and if he can turn out to be anything like him they could be in very good shape for years to come. Odds are he does not develop into the same skill-level Green is on (or anywhere close), but his style of play could turn out to be a lot like him. Anderson is projected to be selected somewhere in the bottom half of the first round, so he should still be on the board when Dallas is picking. 

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a 6'7, 220 pound sophomore out of The University of Arizona and is very much on the Mavs' radar in this upcoming draft. Right when he steps onto the court, you can tell that RHJ has some extreme NBA potential. At 6'7 with a 7'1 wingspan, Hollis-Jefferson has the physical tools to be a role player for years to come. Rondae's length, athleticism, and smarts make him an incredible defender, and he could really do some damage at the NBA level. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson averaged 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists in his 2 years at Arizona, and he continues to grow. His athleticism and length allows him to go up and grab every rebound and can go coast to coast when those rebounds are defensive. RHJ gets out of control a lot, but when he gets to the basket under control, he explodes to the rim and does not shy away from contact. Rondae's biggest weakness is his jump-shot; he shoots an abysmal 20% from behind the three point line and doesn't even take an average of one per game. If he had a solid jumper, Hollis-Jefferson would be a lottery pick for sure. Dallas needs someone who can guard the perimeter at all costs, and RHJ is without a doubt capable of that. His long wingspan is tough enough to shoot over, but with his outstanding vertical, he can block his opponents shots with ease. Opponents rarely drive past him, especially since the majority of players he defends are smaller and weaker than him. Like Justin Anderson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson can guard almost any position on the floor, and better than Anderson can. Most, if not all Hollis-Jefferson's 12 points per game come from shots at the rim, but he has a decent mid-range shot that can really be honed in on as a weapon if the right shooting coach gets hold of him in the NBA. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has all of the same skills and physical abilities as another 3 named Maverick: Al-Farouq Aminu. Aminu's three point shot was just as weak as Hollis-Jefferson's, but with a little bit of help, it became respectable. Aminu and RHJ do nearly everything the exact same, and I wouldn't be surprised if Rondae ends up being the exact same kind of player with the exact same role as him. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is projected to go in the second half of the first round, like Justin Anderson, and is more than likely to be on the board when Dallas is on the clock.

Neither of these players have superstar capabilities, but they do have the potential to be outstanding role players for a championship contender. I think good shooters, like Justin Anderson, are much easier to find than great defenders, like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, which is why I believe Dallas would and should take him before Anderson if both are on the board at 21. I really can't see the Mavs picking either of these two small forwards if guards such as Jerian Grant, R.J. Hunter, Tyus Jones, or Delon Wright are on the board. I would be okay with the Mavs selecting RHJ before those guards (although I wouldn't prefer it), but I would be very disappointed if Justin Anderson was selected above any one of the afore mentioned guards. Don't be shocked if Dallas takes one of these two players are selected at 21, but don't expect it to happen if any one of those guards are available for the taking.