The Mavericks’ draft pick that the Celtics own lies in a weird spot right now, which only adds to the importance of Dallas’ final 12 games.
Earlier today, it was reported that Chandler Parsons will likely miss the rest of the season due to knee surgery. Dallas is now hanging on by a thread, as they’ve lost 7 of their last 9 and have watched Deron Williams, Raymond Felton, and Zaza Pachulia’s performances take huge hits in the past few weeks. Now that Parsons is out, Dirk has to carry his team to the playoffs at age 37.
As of the morning of March 23, here are the Western Conference standings for the team in the same tier as the Mavs.
6. Portland Trail Blazers 36-35
7. Dallas Mavericks 35-35
8. Houston Rockets 35-36
9. Utah Jazz 34-36
We need the Blazers to stay ahead of the Mavericks and the Rockets and Jazz to jump them. If that happens, the Mavs obviously are the 9th seed in the West, but why does that make such a difference in where they pick? If the Mavs are in the 14th slot at the draft lottery, there’s no advantage for the Celtics if their pick makes a jump into the top 3, because the pick is protected 1-7.
But here’s the thing. If the Mavs make the playoffs, they’ll likely have the 15th pick, as the 8th seed seems more likely for them than the 6th or 7th. If the miss the playoffs, however, the pick will probably rise to 12. The 9th and 10th seeds in the Eastern Conference should finish ahead of the Mavs, as the Pistons sit at 37-34 and the Wizards are 35-35. The Pistons have won their last 3 and the Wizards have won their last 5, and both of those teams have arrows pointing up as opposed to the Mavericks’ arrow pointing in the opposite direction.
Let’s say the Celtics got the 15th pick and really wanted to move up to the 12th spot in the draft. Such a jump would cost the Celtics at least a 2nd round pick, and it might cost more if Danny Ainge really wants a certain player, considering he offered 4 picks last year to move from 16 to 9.
The difference between the 15th and 12th pick is more significant than it seems, especially if the C’s try to trade the pick. Let’s say the Celtics get the 3rd pick from the Nets and the 24th pick from their own (if they can get the 3 seed in the East). What if Danny Ainge wants to trade up from 3 to 2 and get either Simmons or Ingram. Doesn’t it look a lot better to offer the 12th pick along with the 3rd and some other asset for the 2nd pick overall, rather than offering the 15th?
Over the next 3 weeks, the most important games for the Mavericks are tomorrow night at Portland, Friday April 1 vs. Houston, and Monday April 11 at Utah. That April 11th game is imperative, as the Jazz and Mavs will likely be fighting for the 8th seed down to the wire, and the Mavs will have played at LAC the night before while the Jazz will have played at Denver the night before. I’ll never root for the Jazz more than I do that night.