• Matt Nguyen

2018-19 Off the Glass Breakout Player Series: Dennis Smith Jr.


With the 2018-2019 NBA season upon us, Off The Glass is making predictions on who breakout players from each team will be. Today we look at Dennis Smith Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks.

Before last season, with only Harrison Barnes, an aging Dirk Nowitzki, and a cast of veterans, the Dallas Mavericks were middling in NBA limbo. That all changed when the Mavericks were gifted Dennis Smith Jr. in the NBA draft. He averaged 15.2/3.8/5.2 last season as the Mavericks’ starting point guard. It was an inconsistent season as he went through the rigors of learning the most complex position in basketball. However, DSJ offered glimpses of hope as the first building block for the Mavericks’ post-Dirk apocalypse.

Smith Jr. has the athleticism and quickness to break out this year. All those skills were showcased throughout last season. With a lightning quick first step, he can get to the basket without any issue.

He was also an underrated playmaker. Smith Jr. averaged a little over five assists in head coach Rick Carlisle’s complex system. That should only improve with the addition of Luka Doncic and Deandre Jordan rim running.

The biggest weakness in his game is obviously his shooting. Last season, Smith Jr. shot 31% from three, which isn’t that great for a modern-day point guard. For comparison, last year Stephen Curry shot 44%, Chris Paul shot 37%, and even rookie Donovan Mitchell shot 34%. DSJ’s shot will be something he has to improve on if he wants more room in the paint to operate.

For Smith Jr. to break out, he’s going to have to improve on his shooting. Drafting Doncic in this year’s draft will help DSJ out. Not only will he have another guard to help out with ball handling duties, but Smith Jr. will also have plenty of open looks. Last year, he shot 36% on wide open shots according to NBA.com statistics. If Doncic can play as advertised, DSJ will thrive in this offense.

Dennis Smith Jr. has the opportunity to build on his rookie year. If he can hone his shot and continue figuring out the intricacies of being an NBA point, he’ll cement himself as one of the cornerstones of the Mavericks’ rebuild.

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