If there's one thing I love, it's a good old fashioned NBA "what if". I've blogged it before, but I can't get enough of 'em. Whenever we get a story from someone about a potential deal or potential signing or draft pick I eat that shit up so fast I'm back for seconds before you even know what happened. It's fun to think about the butterfly effect from that "what if" and how different the league might be.
A prime example of this of course was the nugget Mark Cuban gave us while chatting with the fellas over on the Pat Bev Pod
Oh hell yeah. First off, Mark Cuban is a must listen no matter what podcast he's on. I just feel like he's one of the few owners in sports that's always honest. Plus, he's an OG
But let's get back to that little snippet about a certain point guard they wanted to draft in 2020, Tyrese Haliburton. To help set the stage, let's remember where the Mavs were way back in 2020. I know that was just 3 years ago but come on, it may as well have been 50 years ago given all the shit that's happened in the world.
The Mavs wrapped up the 2019-20 season going 43-32 and losing in the first round to the Clippers in 6 games. The Luka/Porzingis experiment didn't exactly work out as they had hoped, Jalen Brunson was a good 2nd year PG, but he hadn't really broken out yet, playing around 17 minutes a night. Fast forward to the 2020 Draft and the Mavs were picking 18th (Josh Green). Now there are instances all the time where a player breaks out and turns into a stud, and then suddenly we learn how EVERY team wanted him at the draft and knew he'd be a beast. I'd say 99% of the time that's bullshit.
But like I said, I feel like Cuban always keeps it real when he talks about this stuff. Both the hits and the misses. I think most rational people wanted their favorite team to move up as Haliburton started to fall, I know I certainly did with the Celts picking 14th. It as basically him and LaMelo Ball as the best point guards in the class, so I can totally buy the Mavs trying to move from 18 to the 12 range which is where Haliburton ended up. What's surprising is all the teams that obviously turned the Mavs down didn't do it so they could take Haliburton themselves which I find odd. If the Mavs told that team hey we want your pick to take a guy you don't even want, why wouldn't they fork it over?
The fact that Rick Carlisle immediately traded for Haliburton once he went from the Mavs to the Pacers is also why I'm buying this story. He took that job and it was the first thing they did at the 2022 trade deadline. That wasn't an accident.
Can you imagine a Luka/Haliburton backcourt? Oh my god. You pair this guy
with this guy?
That's the best backcourt in basketball for the next decade plus. Luka finally couldn't have to have an insane usage percentage, the ball movement and passing of that combo would have been some of the craziest shit we've ever seen.
But the real fun is thinking what else happens. For example, do the Mavs then look to trade Jalen Brunson instead of low balling him on that extension and losing him for nothing? If that happens, none of this Jalen Brunson explosion in New York happens. Maybe the Knicks are no longer back. The more obvious what if of course is the Mavs most definitely do not trade for Kyrie Irving. So if that's the case, does everyone demand out of BKN? Is KD still a Net? If that's the case, where is Bradley Beal right now? Could the Mavs use those assets from the Kyrie trade to bring in a different position of need since PG would be all set? Once you start peeling back the layers, you can get pretty crazy.
If Haliburton is there, maybe it works with Luka and Porzingis and he's not traded to the Wizards. In that scenario, what do the Boston Celtics look like right now? Do they just continue to stay the course or is there a different Marcus Smart trade eventually? As you can see, so much of the NBA landscape can be traced back to the Mavs trying to draft Tyrese Haliburton. If they were successful, the entire league as we know it today would be different.
There's no Kings/Pacers trade which helped create the Beam Team and end the Kings playoff drought. If that trade never happens, maybe the Pacers don't go into that soft rebuild and Brogdon stays.
As a basketball fan, while I do think it's cool that Haliburton has his own team and can run the show for the Pacers, I really would have loved to see him with Luka/Porzingis. That trio is fucking nasty. But that's the tough part about a quality NBA "what if". All you can do is dream about what it would have been like.
Stories like this are obviously why you should be subscribing to the pod, and if you haven't checked out the full episode, clear your calendar today and give it a watch. Cuban certainly didn't disappoint.