Determining the best Mavs' pick of all-time is simple: Dirk Nowitzki.
You know the story. In 1998 then-general manager Don Nelson took the giant German in a draft-day switcheroo with the Milwaukee Bucks for the late, not-so-great Robert "Tractor" Trayor.
Just a week after their championship parade climaxed in the same building, tonight at American Airlines Center the Mavs will have the 26th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Dallas has to plan for the July 1 lockout, re-sign free agents Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea all the while trying to save some pennies for 2012 free agents such as Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams.
But first, they must make a pick that stays off this list of laughable misses. And even though he amassed more NBA Finals' tattoos (1) than playoff minutes (0), no, last year's top pick Dominique Jones doesn't sneak among the worst.
5. Chris Anstey -- Hyped by Nelson as the "best running big man in the NBA", the Australian 7-footer was an absolute joke as the 18th pick in '97 (the Mavs actually acquired him in a draft-day trade with Portland for Kelvin Cato). Too skinny and embarrassingly unskilled, he started just 23 games in three seasons before going back Down Under to, we can assume, run. Mavs' should've taken Stephen Jackson, or even Bobby Jackson.
4. Randy White -- Pegged as the next Karl Malone as a power forward out of Louisiana Tech, the 8th overall pick in '89 fell flat. In five seasons he never averaged more than 9.7 points per game. Mavs could've taken Shawn Kemp, Mookie Blaylock or Vlade Divac.
3. Bill Garnett -- A stiff, white, horrible power forward from Wyoming, the No. 4 overall pick in '82 simply couldn't play at the NBA level despite the amazing "character" so praised by then-GM Norm Sonju. Somehow the Mavs ascended to '80s greatness despite this botched pick that should've been Fat Lever or Ricky Pierce.
2. Leon Smith -- A year after landing Dirk, Nellie went absolutely nuts and drafted an immature, unpolished Chicago high-schooler with mental problems. Drafted 29th overall in '99, Smith never played a game in a Mavericks' uniform and only 15 overall with the Hawks and Sonics. Meanwhile, 28 picks later, the Spurs selected Manu Ginobli.
1. Samaki Walker -- Needing a power presence to supplement The Three Js (Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn), the Mavs took the Louisville power forward with the 9th overall pick in '96. Walker played only three years in Dallas, but produced a 10-year career punctuated by starting 63 games on the Lakers' championship team in '02. Drafted after Walker: Peja Stojakovic (15th), Steve Nash (14th) and a guy named Kobe Bryant (13th).
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