Dallas Mavericks 2017-18 Outlook

By Darreck Kirby
Project Shanks Creative Director

Last season the Dallas Mavericks amassed just 33 wins against 49 loses to complete one of their worst seasons in recent memory. To put things bluntly, the roster Dallas walked into the season with provided little hope to fans eager to see the return of playoff basketball in Big D. The starting lineup of Derron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, and Andrew Bogut was never going to set the league on fire, and it resulted in the Mavs getting off to one of their worst starts since the 90s.  Things were so bad, in fact, Dallas ultimately took out a flier on a kid named Yogi Ferrell and opted to revamp its young core by trading for 23-year-old rim protector, Nerlens Noel. Sure the moves teased the possibility of Rick Carlisle’s squad sneaking into the playoffs, but in the end there just wasn’t enough depth or, frankly, talent, to overcome an abysmal 9-21 start. Dallas would get the number 9 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and land the electric point guard, Dennis Smith Jr.

Original photo credit Mavs.com

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Law Nation Film Study: Dennis Smith Jr.

Captivated by the immense athletic potential of Dennis Smith Jr., Law Nation breaks down NBA film for the Mavs top pick.

Strengths
Smith is likely the most explosive athlete in the 2017 NBA Draft. He has an elite first step to pair with terrific vertical explosiveness. That, along with his advanced ball-handling ability and terrific footwork in the pick-and-roll, allows him to get separation from opponents with ease. He knows how to use screens, can use that first step to blow by mismatches in isolation and can get out into transition. In all of these cases, Smith can finish above the rim, where his 60.7 field goal percentage in half-court settings around the basket is extremely high for a guard. He’s a confident shooter who can hit shots off the catch.
Smith is also a creative passer, a player who excels at a higher level creating looks for teammates within the flow of the offense rather than out on the break. He can hit teammates with wrap-around passes underneath the basket, kick-out passes on drives or quick looks to open players from a standstill. His 34.2 percent assist rate was top 30 in college basketball, despite his teammates shooting just 33.8 percent from 3-point range in ACC play, which would have been last in the conference.
In terms of the rest of his floor game, it’s worth noting that Smith is a good rebounder, and a pesky defender when he wants to be. He’s good at getting into passing lanes and using his quickness despite length that would be slightly below average for a point guard.

Weaknesses
Size and durability is the primary concern here. At 6-3, 195 pounds, Smith isn’t the biggest guy in the world, and he won’t post elite length measurements to make up for it. He also tended to avoid contact this season, although it’s difficult to judge whether that was a reaction to the injury and a decision out of self-preservation (which, well, I can’t blame him). He’ll need to be willing to use his athleticism to embrace contact in the NBA, where he should be a magnet for fouls after he gets past his initial defender.

Overall Thoughts/Best Fits
Athleticism and the ability to create separation consistently from defenders is the most valuable skill a point guard can have in the modern NBA. Throw in the fact that Smith can also pass it as well as score at all three levels, and it’s hard not to like the upside. He isn’t quite as safe a pick as De’Aaron Fox due to some of the makeup questions, but if he hits, he’s going to be an All-Star because of the ability to get space for himself.

Getting to Know Dennis Smith Jr.

By Lindsey Jones

The Dallas Mavericks drafted North Carolina State freshman Dennis Smith Jr. in the first round of this year’s draft with the number 9 overall pick. It is worth to point out that Smith was the 4th overall point guard taken in the draft behind Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, DeAaron Fox, and Frank Ntilikina.

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Sports Enyi Time – Mavs 2017 Draft Wish List

Project Shanks welcomes to the family the returning sports podcast, Sports Enyi Time with host Enyi Nduka. Joining Enyi this week is Darreck Kirby of Podcast Shanks as the two discuss the 2017 NBA Draft and the potential Mavs pick at 9. Join Enyi each week for the best in DFW sports.

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