The Dallas Mavericks had the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Like everyone who came before them, they passed on the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo, a raw talent at the time with huge upside potential. In an interview with Justin Termine and Brendan Haywood on Sirius XM’s NBA channel, Mark Cuban explained how and why he made the decision:
To his credit, Cuban said that his front office all wanted to take Giannis. He even said that Mavs president and GM Donny Nelson did the Sam Cassell balls gesture to illustrate why they should do it. But, Cuban said, they were in “win now” mode. They thought they’d have a chance to land Dwight Howard in free agency.
Instead of picking the Greek Freak, the Mavs traded down three spots with the Celtics, who picked Kelly Olynyk.
Just look at everyone who got picked before Antetokounmpo, and weep:
- Anthony Bennett (Cavs)
- Victor Oladipo (Magic)
- Otto Porter (Wizards)
- Cody Zeller (Bobcats)
- Alex Len (Suns)
- Nerlens Noel (Pelicans / traded to 76ers)
- Ben McLemore (Kings)
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Pistons)
- Trey Burke (Timberwolves / traded to Cavs)
- C.J. McCollum (Blazers)
- Michael Carter-Williams (76ers)
- Steven Adams (Thunder / via Raptors / via Rockets)
- Kelly Olynyk (Mavs / traded to Celtics)
- Shabazz Muhammad (Jazz / traded to Timberwolves)
Even granting that Giannis was far from a finished product, and clearly nobody knew he’d wind up this good, that’s a whole lotta bad decision-making.