The Mavericks Finally Drafted Well

The Dallas Mavericks selected Dennis Smith Jr., a Point Guard from North Carolina State with the ninth pick in the 2017 NBA draft. DSJ is a top 5 prospect and wouldn’t have been available at pick number nine had this been a conventional draft rather than a very deep one. Dallas did only have one pick in this draft but for the first time since probably 1998, with maybe a couple other drafts mixed in, the Mavericks finally drafted well.

Photo by Chuck Liddy

Dallas has been regarded as a team that didn’t take the draft seriously. They preferred to try their luck in free agency, a plan that failed them since winning the championship in 2011, swinging and missing on every single big name free agent and then were left to pick from the scraps. A plan that wasted the inevitable short time and they would have left with Nowitzki. From 2008–2013 Dallas had 10 draft picks, all of whom were traded on draft night to other teams. They didn’t have a single pick in the 2014 draft because of trades. They didn’t have a first rounder last year. The future was not looking good and the rebuild was going to be awful.

They had to get their pick in 2017 right. They had to hit. This was the Mavs highest draft pick since 1998, when they selected Robert Traylor with the sixth pick who was then traded for Dirk Nowitzki, the ninth overall pick. The Mavs have not had legitimate, young, talent in a while. Justin Anderson was a decent pick, but probably won’t be anything more than a role player. The Mavericks needed a prospect with star potential. And they got one with star potential in Dennis Smith.

As of now, Dennis Smith looks to be a steal at pick nine. He has unreal athleticism for a PG which gives him comparisons to Russell Westbrook, on a lesser scale right now of course. Athleticism kills in this league and it’s something you can’t teach or develop, it’s God given. He is also a pure scorer, something the Mavericks haven’t had since Monta Ellis. He shows potential to be a great playmaker as he averaged 6.2 assists last season surrounded by very questionable talent. Shooters like Harrison Barnes and Seth Curry finally have someone who can make the defense move and give them open shots on the perimeter. The pick and roll game with Dirk and Noel will also be awesome. Mavericks fans have a lot of reasons for why they should be ecstatic that Smith is a Maverick.

Dennis Smith Jr. was one of the best scorers in the nation last year, averaging 18.1 ppg to go along with 6.2 apg, 4.6 rpg, 1.9 spg. He should be an instant impact player and Carlisle has said he is the probable starter. He can come in and make an impact on both ends. His athletic ability will allow him to play solid defense, which he will have to do in order to start for Carlisle. Adding a player like DSJ coould be enough to get Dallas back in the playoffs, or at least closer to it than last season.

Stars in the league have raw talent combined with athletic ability and a strong work ethic. DSJ looks like he has the talent. There aren’t too many concerns about his ability on the court. The only concerns are about his attitude and desire. I do think that Carlisle can work with him and will straighten him up. That could also be where Wes Matthews comes in to play. While Wes has been abysmal on the court, he is regarded as a great veteran leader and role model for the younger guys, with a great work ethic that could rub off on DSJ very nicely. I think that Smith was just in an awful situation at NC State, surrounded by lesser talent, which factored into his attitude. I don’t expect that to carry over into the NBA, especially with Rick Carlisle, Dirk, and Wes.

Another positive from getting DSJ is that Carlisle can now mold Smith into the exact type of Point Guard he wants due to how young Smith is. He has the raw tools so now it is up to the coaching and training, and putting him in a position to succeed.

If Dallas can turn Seth Curry, Yogi Ferrell, and other NBA outcasts into very serviceable players, I am very excited to see what they can do with a talent like Dennis Smith Jr. The fans are just going to have to be patient.

Finally. Dallas is building their roster the right way.No more trading their pick away. No more of not taking the draft seriously. No more swing and misses in free agency on guys they had no chance getting. No more false hope from free agency dreams.

It took Dallas six seasons to realize their plan of building through free agency was not working, and that that it would never work. They finally looked at the draft and seriously considered the prospects. They finally got someone who has real potential to be something special. Finally the fans have something to be excited about regarding the future of the Dallas Mavericks.

Mike Stobe — Getty Images