Dennis Smith Jr's Three Step Success Plan
Writer: Caleb Akpan
The Dallas Mavericks want Dennis Smith Jr. to be a star, which is obviously not shocking. What NBA team doesn't want is their lottery pick (or any pick for that matter) to dominate the league, be the next LeBron? The problem is, greatness in the NBA isn't guaranteed. If it was, we wouldn't have the Darko Milicics, Greg Odens, and Nikoloz Tskitishvilis (google him) of the world. Despite this, it seems that the Mavs have DSJ on track to reach the more Curry/James side of the NBA equation than going down as one of the greatest mistakes of all-time, stuck in one of dozens of slideshows for “The NBA's Biggest Busts” on the internet. Here's how:
Surround Him With Veterans
The Mavericks have consistently been one of the older teams in the NBA since they won the championship (and even before then). Specifically, they've ranked 30th, 27th, 30th(tied), 30th (again), 28th, and 23rd respectively since 2011. Basically, Dallas was a traveling retirement home until last season. Fans and media members alike have criticized the organization for consistently putting together a team that was experienced enough to get a playoff spot, but too old to do anything with it by the end of the season, and yet, it seems like in a roundabout way they've made it work perfectly for their new point guard.
What's better than learning from an NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki and former All-Star Devin Harris (it happened, I promise) about life in the league? Nothing. The master of isolation, Harrison Barnes is on the wing, and two of the best defenders on the hardwood in Wes Matthews and Nerlens Noel will be there too (hopefully for Noel). Smith Jr. basically has somebody to go to for every kind of play style and personality the league has, and as long as he's ready to learn, the veterans should be ready to teach him.
Hand Him The Keys To The Car
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle (one of the best in the league, and that's not even a reason in this article) came out pretty quickly and announced Dennis Smith would most likely be the Mavericks' starting point guard on opening night. This came as a shock to some as Carlisle has usually been associated with making young players earn their minutes, or just not giving them minutes at all (RIP AJ Hammons experiment). Smith Jr. is obviously a bit of a different case than others being drafted so high, but the fact that Carlisle was so quick to put him over Mavs veterans like JJ Barea and Devin Harris, who have each played with the franchise for eight separated season, is telling. DSJ must have shown them something that lets the team know he is truly ready to lead an NBA franchise, and one with players who have much more experience than he does.
Let Him Sign a Shoe Deal That is Destined for Greatness
This last one is pretty simple. Dennis Smith Jr. recently signed his first endorsement deal with Under Armour. Who's Under Armour's leading man? One former back-to-back MVP, reigning NBA champion, and possible best shooter of all-time Stephen Curry. Obviously Smith Jr. and Steph probably won't be best friends, but if Smith Jr. can even learn a thing or two from Curry being under the same brand, the Mavericks and their fans will be happy.
Dennis Smith Jr. can be the Mavericks’ next franchise player. In part because he's clearly talented, and in part because the Mavericks have set him up very nicely. It's now up to the young stud and the team to put these things together and make this new situation work.