Dallas chose Dennis Smith JR with the 9th pick. There’s a lot to take from this, so let’s dive straight into it:
First, here is my Dennis Smith JR scouting report.
Smith is going to be fighting JJ Barea and Yogi for minutes right away, barring other roster changes. One thing I would expect to see is many 2 guard lineups. Smith does not bring much height to the team, which was a major concern for the background. However, Smith is easily now the most athletic player on the Dallas roster. The important thing is that if Smith can improve his motor, because then his athleticism will make a tier above his counterparts.
One other area that Smith will need to show improvement in is in the pick & roll. Smith could never run pick & roll lobs to his big men, as the athleticism on the NC State roster was poor. Smith was arguably the lone above the rim player on the roster, which meant he was the lone player that could penetrate the lane effectively. While being the only slasher, Smith shot 65% at the rim, which is incredibly impressive considering the context.
I think Smith should be used in low pressure situations for much of his rookie season. For one, his injury past should be eased in with an 82 game schedule. He shouldn’t exceed 20 minutes a game, which is more than enough time in a game for Rick to maximize his talent. Secondly, his feel for the game is among the worst of the top tier of prospects, partly due to missing most of his senior year due to injury. Smith needs to improve his understanding of the game, which will be improved upon in low pressure minutes and in practices.
Smith’s impact with the Mavs this season will depend on the Mavs’ season performance. If the Mavericks are winning, don’t expect Smith to be playing heavy meaningful minutes. If the Mavericks are losing, expect similar runs to what Yogi got this season.
Additionally, the Mavs were near the worst team in transition last season. As noted, Smith is now the most athletic player on the roster. The Mavs will be incredibly fun to watch with Smith & Noel running the floor and pick and roll. The P&R production from Smith and Noel will be very telling of Smith’s productive upside.
Another aspect I like is the ability to help Barnes’ shooting without sacrificing Barnes’ overall production as Smith can be effective in the drive and kick. While he didn’t show a ton of passing out of attacking the paint, he should be able to learn easily with significantly higher talent around him.
Lastly, Dennis Smith will need to show improvement and consistency with his shot. He will be given way more spot up opportunities in Dallas, and will need him to produce from 3. While expectations for his shot’s consistency should be low, Mavs fans should expect to see flashes of his 3 point shot working.
Overall, I’d expect to see heavy inconsistencies from Smith. My advice to fans would to be entering his rookie season with low expectations and not expecting him to be a great player right away. I expect 2017-18 to be a growing year, and 2018 being a chance for another top 10 pick. 2018-19 season is when I expect Dennis to make significant strides. I will be very happy otherwise, but his shot will need to improve, and his understanding will be tested as the season passes. His athleticism and attacking will be his forte for most of the 2017-18 season. He is best served being a bench player (despite Rick saying he’d start) as it will best cancel his defensive flaws (which I expect to be mostly limited thanks to Rick being able to hide defensive struggles on guards).