Trying to play revisionist history looking back at mistakes made drafting players is always an exercise in futility — dozens of factors are at play when it comes to why players are or are not drafted, and why prospects do or do not turn into stars. But it’s also a lot of fun. David Hopkins of The Two Man Game, the TrueHoop Network’s Mavs affiliate, recently looked back at the Dallas Mavericks of the 1980s, and with a couple of different moves, the team would’ve had a Pistons feel:
In 1981, the Mavs drafted Mark Aguirre.
Who they could have had: Isiah Thomas (2nd pick)
Isiah Thomas was a 12-time NBA All-Star and one of the great point guards of all time. There’s no doubt he could have done great things with the Mavericks. As a fan, I’m okay with this miss. Aguirre was a great player, and I always found Thomas to be annoying. But as a time traveling GM, I would draft Thomas and hope that he would become a better person by spending more time in Dallas than Detroit. Highly likely.
In 1986, the Mavs drafted Roy Tarpley.
Who they could have had: Arvydas Sabonis (24th pick) or Dennis Rodman (27th pick).
Time travel is fickle, because I honestly believe Roy Tarpley was the best and most talented pick at the 7th spot. Unfortunately, drug abuse destroyed a promising career. If he could’ve stayed healthy and clean, there’s no doubt in my mind that the 90s wouldn’t have been so horrendous with Tarpley leading the team. Dallas needed a center, though, so I’ll go with Sabonis — even though Rodman in his prime would be a joy to watch with the Mavs.
In Joe Dumars’ recent drafts, many have said how lucky he is that Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond fell to him late in the lottery. This post by Hopkins is just another in a long line of examples that ‘luck’ and teams making baffling decisions has always and will always be a part of the draft process.