By Josh Clark
DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) – The Dallas Mavericks introduced their newest point guard to the fans and media on Friday afternoon.
Dallas selected NC State’s Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth overall pick in the draft on Thursday night and they couldn’t be more thrilled that he was still on the board when it was time to make their pick.
“We were shocked when he fell to nine. … We felt like we got the steal of the draft,” said owner Mark Cuban.
“We’re excited. … We know we got a kid here that’s very motivated and has tremendous ability. Our job going forward here is to give him the tools to have ultimate success. … To become a great player, to become a franchise-caliber player,” Rick Carlisle added.
Smith, a 6’2″ guard, was rated among the top players in the draft coming into the college basketball season, but he ultimately fell down some draft boards after his Wolfpack team didn’t make the tournament and questions arose about his character.
“I’m thankful to be a part of Dallas. … I’m thankful to be a part of the Mavericks, and I’m looking forward to a successful career here,” said Smith Jr. in his opening statement to the media. “It’s a great organization, (it’s ) a great group of guys and (there are) a lot of Hall of Famers within this circle, so for them to go after me the way they did and respect my game the way that they do is a blessing.”
Some in the media have compared Smith Jr. to Russell Westbrook or Steve Francis, while the rookie guard told coach Carlisle he was a Derrick Rose with a jump shot. With those comparisons, it’s easy to heap all-star potential on the 19-year-old, which is something he doesn’t seem to mind.
“I appreciate it. That’s high praise and I haven’t even played a game in this league. I’m thankful for that, I appreciate everything that comes my way and I believe I’m deserving of it because I worked so hard,” Smith Jr. said.
Smith Jr. didn’t lack confidence in the press conference. When asked if the Rookie of the Year award was within reach, he didn’t hesitate when he said, “I believe so. … I believe it’s very attainable.”
So while Smith Jr. has his eye on the hardware and all-star games, while saying he’s ‘thankful’ to be in Dallas. … One thing is for sure, and that’s that Dallas is thankful to have him, and the hope now is that the media members penciling him into all-star lineups are right.