As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Neither were the Dallas Mavericks.

As of today, the Mavericks are 3-15, good for last place in the Western Conference. It’s looking like a sure bet that Dallas will miss the playoffs for a second straight year and third time since the 2010-11 season.

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Since the Mavericks won the title in 2011, the team has been stuck in a vicious cycle of mediocrity. Since that glorious year, the Mavericks have gone 254-240 during the regular season and haven’t made it out of the first round of the playoffs.

I love the guy to death, but Dirk Nowitzki is a shell of his former self. The Tall Baller from the G definitely deserves a spot on the Mount Rushmore of Dallas sport icons, but he now looks like some random guy who you would see playing games at the Y on Sunday afternoons after church.

And it’s not like Mark Cuban hasn’t tried his best find Nowitzki a successor. Unfortunately, he has struck out trying to land big free agents during the summer and trades for players have flopped.

The solution for the Mavericks? Embrace the suckage, and start building through the NBA draft.

The Cuban-led Dallas Mavericks have been notorious over the past decade for striking out in the draft. At times, it was almost as if they didn’t care either by dealing the pick or by not taking the time to develop young players.

Back in 2013, the Mavericks had a chance at taking Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 13th overall pick. The team skipped over him and traded for point guard Shane Larkin.

Larkin was traded the following year and is now a backup for the Boston Celtics. Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo is an All-Star and an early season front-runner for NBA MVP award.

For this team to have any future success, it must start with the draft. Luckily, the Mavericks can look out west to see what happens when you draft well.

The Golden State Warriors, winners of two of the last three NBA Finals, have drafted extremely well, hitting on Steph Curry (7th, 2009,) Klay Thompson (11th, 2011,) and Draymond Green (35th, 2012.) It’s no wonder that Kevin Durant took his talents to the Bay Area.

This past summer, the Mavericks drafted North Carolina State University point guard Dennis Smith Jr., and he has been a bright spot on the team. Through the first 16 games of his young career, the 19 year-old averaged 14.1 points and 4.4 assists per game.

All signs point to this getting ugly before it gets good again. But remember, the draft is your friend and help might just be a lottery pick away.

So in the meantime, enjoy the growing pains of this team and get yourself familiar with future lottery picks Michael Porter Jr., DeAndre Ayton, or Luka Doncic. These guys just might be suiting up in the Big D next season.

sports-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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