Will the wave continue?

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns
Photo: Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The Mavericks started this season with their future Hall of Famer and points per game leader sidelined due to injury. Most MFFL’s expected a sluggish start. New Mavs t-shirt slogan “Welcome to The Future” is a motto both the team and fan base can support and finally believe. On Saturday we watched Dennis Smith Jr. knock down the game-clinching jumper versus the Timberwolves. Then on Monday, they put the Bulls to bed and credence was given to this progressive slogan.

The best time to make a mark on any club is at its genesis. Especially when multiple members of the club are not available. The absence of Dirk and Harrison have given DeAndre Jordan and Dorian Finney-Smith the chance to emerge and evolve into impact players we desperately need.

A New Leader Emerging

Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas MavericksIt’s hard to believe the girl that once curved you is now back in your life, but she’s not just back… she’s making dinner, your parents love her and she even enjoys doing laundry. Well, so far this basically describes the first season with DeAndre. He has proven to be the rebounder and defensive presence we anticipated but the most surprising attribute (dinner & laundry) has been his leadership.  Dre is an anchor for this club providing veteran stability & leadership previously given by HB or Dirk.

The way he communicates and interacts with his teammates is infectious and without a doubt has a positive impact on the squad. Extra offensive possessions, multiple defensive stops, and fast break buckets are all a part of DJ’s basketball DNA. Carlisle doesn’t have to run plays for a player like this. He has the freedom to be active and produce as the game allows; not forcing the action.

A players PER (Player Efficiency Rating) generally explains how their minutes, court activity and stat production correlate. The league average is 15% while DJ is at 28.8%. This essentially means while DJ is on the floor he is producing. To this point, Jordan’s season averages are 17 PPG, 12.7 REBS, 2.3 BLK, 70% FG, 90% FT. Yes, that says ninety percent from the free throw line. It’s hard to dispute these numbers, especially considering a 2-1 record. In order for this relationship to go to the next level, Jordan has to prove two things. 1) Can he be as productive when Harrison returns to the lineup?  and 2) Can he continue his infectious optimism to show the Mavericks are headed in the right direction? The latter will be crucial to adding the STAR Free-Agent we always undoubtedly pursue.

The Evolution of Dorian Finney-Smith

Coming into the season we knew Dorian Finney-Smith would see key minutes in both the NBA and its developmental league due to his ever-growing potential. 2017- 2018 was an injury-plagued season so it was natural to assume he would need time to resume his upward growth. However, Finney-Smith finds himself in the starting lineup for the first three games averaging 30 minutes. Combine this with defending the other teams best offensive weapon and its a no-brainer to keep him as a part of the regular rotation.

After going undrafted in 2016 Dorian was given a considerable amount of action for a rookie. He started 35 games, played in all 81 while averaging 20.3 minutes a game. As he blossomed the expectations grew but his sophomore campaign was cut short due to a knee injury, only participating in 21 games. This left many MFFL’s wondering what was next for the Florida product.

Chicago Bulls v Dallas MavericksRick Carlisle has used Finney-Smith as an all-purpose cleaner thus far. Basically, rinsing off the lineup residue left by an injured Harrison Barnes. DFS has shown an improved three-point shot that must be respected but don’t get me wrong there is a production drop off when considering the two players. Its just the intangibles they possess are too similar to ignore. Dorian has proven to be a legitimate defender and capable three-point shooter, currently going 6-15 from deep.

Moving forward look for his game to continue to evolve. The ability to play multiple positions with consistency is rare.  This is why many still consider DFS to be one of the top two-way players of the 2016 draft.

Despite limited expectations, the Mavericks have delivered. They have produced an on-court product that is not only effective but entertaining. Starting the season 2-1 is nothing to write home about for most teams but when you haven’t been above .500 since the 2015-2016 season its safe to get the good pen out.  MOMMA WE ON OUR WAY!!!

R.C. Takes

Photo: Mavs.com


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