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PicklePod Recap: Inside the MLP Draft with Texas Ranchers' GM Ryan Dawidjan

by Jason Flamm on

WARNING: This episode of the PicklePod is for pickleball nerds only.

It discusses Major League Pickleball with Ryan Dawidjan, General Manager of the Texas Ranchers. If you are not a pickleball nerd, then many things said in this podcast will likely not provide the typical entertainment value.

Now that we’ve eliminated all the non-nerds let’s get on with the show.

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Meet Ryan Dawidjan

Dawidjan is the current general manager of MLP’s Texas Ranchers. He’s also a co-owner of The Lab, an Austin-based pickleball content factory where pros train and play daily. They host clinics and moneyball tournaments and want to be known as the hub for upper-echelon pickleball players.

You can find them on Instagram (@playatthelab).

Which Teams Built the Best MLP Premier Level Rosters? We Grade Each Franchise
Which MLP teams constructed the best rosters during the 2024 Premier Level draft earlier this week? We grade each team’s approach and roster.

Inside the MLP Draft

The recent MLP Draft was Ryan’s second. His first was with the Columbus Sliders. This time, with the Texas Ranchers, things were much less straightforward.

For those unsure of how the MLP draft worked this year, Zane breaks it down right round here.

A Refresher for the Upcoming 2024 Major League Pickleball Draft
Now that Major League Pickleball is back, how are the teams constructed? We get you prepped for the April 2 draft with a refresher on how it works.

Previously, drafts were snake drafts, and you could, within a reasonable estimation, figure out who would be available at each spot. With the recent changes, things were not as clear.

So, how did Ryan prepare?

"It was impossible to mock and simulate on behalf of 11 other GMs and groups," he admitted. So, instead of penciling in who might go in which position, he and his partners built a list of eight males and eight females they’d like to have on their team. 

He also spoke to a few dozen players the week before to ensure they were available and who they believed would make good teammates. Since these players are expected to play together for 1-3 years, how players play together is just as important as individual skill.

Hear Ryan break down all the thoughts and strategies for selecting his team. They also discussed whether this might be the last MLP Draft.

Winners and Losers of the MLP Draft

Who had the best and worst MLP Draft? The guys go around the horn grading and dissecting each team. 

Discussion Highlights

  • Did Ben Johns go for less than everyone expected?
  • A Forbes writer called Zane the “reach of the draft?” What did Zane think of that?
  • Which players decided they’ll get a Clowns tattoo if the New Jersey 5s win?
  • Was Riley Newman getting drafted fourth overall a surprise?
  • Zane gives the AZ Drive a D.
  • How does Ryan grade his own draft? 

Alshon lights up X

In case you missed it, Christian Alshon lit a fire under the tennis community last week when he tweeted, "... Point for point, pickleball requires more skill than tennis." The guys dive into that social media spat and share their takes.

The only team to get an F grade

If you’ve followed any MLP coverage, you know which team they likely gave an F grade to. If you haven’t, find out late in this PicklePod episode.

Of course, this was recorded before this MLP trade news came out yesterday:

First MLP Trade of 2024 Sees Tyson McGuffin Sent to Orlando
Less than a week after the 2024 MLP Draft, the Utah Black Diamonds traded away Tyson McGuffin to the Orlando Squeeze in exchange for Jay Devilliers and $50,000.

Who were Premier Level snubs? 

Finally, you can listen to who Ryan, Zane, and Thomas think are the biggest Premier Level snubs. 

Jason Flamm

Jason Flamm

Jason is a writer from St. Louis. He’s been a coach in several sports and is currently working on his pickleball coaching certification. He loves to teach and share his passions.

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