By: Josh Clark
DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) – The Dallas Mavericks added another key piece to the future when they selected NC State point guard Dennis Smith Jr. with the 9th overall pick in the draft on Thursday.
As a freshman, he averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists while shooting .455 from the field, .359 from behind-the-arc and .715 from the foul line.
Smith, 6’2″, is one of the most athletic guards in the draft. The best part of his game is his scoring ability. When he gets the ball he looks to score. He drives hard to the basket and isn’t afraid of contact. He can also knock down shots from anywhere on the floor.
Smith has drawn comparisons to Steve Francis and Russell Westbrook, but he’s got some improving to do if he wants to reach his full potential.
The biggest question marks surrounding Smith is his attitude, defensive abilities, and his previous injury. Smith has shown a desire to play defense when motivated, but that isn’t going to get it done in the NBA.
Mavericks head coach Rick Carlise also won’t put up with a rookie having a bad attitude, but something can be said for the volatile situation he played in last year in Raleigh. His team underperformed and he’s only 19 years old. Put him in a locker room with Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, and Wesley Matthews and see what happens then.
Smith suffered a torn ACL before his high school senior season. Because of that, he turned something negative into a positive and enrolled early at N.C. State.
The North Carolina native got valuable experience by watching practices and games from the bench before he ever suited up, which shows his character.
Smith, once seen as one of the top point guards in the draft, had fallen on draft boards over the last couple of months. The biggest reason for that is that the draft is so deep and talented that anyone taken after Markelle Fultz from 2-9 is understandable. However, Smith’s Wolfpack team not making the NCAA tournament likely has something to do with his fall.
While other guards De’Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball were making deep runs in the draft, Smith was sitting at home on the couch not being seen on the big stage.
All of that matters no more as Smith has an NBA home with the Mavericks, and Dallas couldn’t be happier to get a talent of his caliber with the No. 9 overall pick.