Dorian Finney-Smith is a long wing who can defend, shoot 3s, and make plays in the air.
Sound familiar? It should.
The Mavericks officially signed Finney-Smith on Friday before the team left for Las Vegas where he and his teammates will play in the Summer League. This is the second consecutive summer in which Dallas added a young, “3-and-D” type of player, following up the addition of Justin Anderson via the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft. The Mavs also signed Wesley Matthews in free agency last season, giving the club even more shooting and even more defense.
The NBA is getting longer and more athletic, and the game is being played farther and farther from the rim. Rosters must be stacked top-to-bottom with players who can defend multiple positions and who can be an outside threat on the offensive side of the ball. Finney-Smith absolutely qualifies in that regard.
While he and Anderson are not the same exact kind of player — Anderson is more of a 2-guard or 3, while Finney-Smith will play 3 and possibly even 4 in the NBA — their measurables are similar. Both have 6-foot, 11.75-inch wingspans, both can jump through the ceiling, and both shot the 3-ball very well in college — Anderson connected on 45.2 percent of his long-range attempts his final year at Virginia, while Finney-Smith shot 42.6 percent as a junior and 36.6 as a senior at Florida. Athleticism and shooting tend to translate over to the NBA, and the Mavericks will be counting on both players to bring both to the table this season.
Those two players, along with Matthews and Harrison Barnes, make up a stable of wing players in Dallas all capable of defending as many as three different positions. We saw Matthews defend point guards and power forwards in the same game last season, and Barnes is capable of defending post players like Zach Randolph. Anderson and Finney-Smith, meanwhile, are long enough to guard 4s and quick enough to potentially defend shooting guards. That’s the type of team-wide versatility it takes to defend teams like Golden State and Cleveland, which feature players at multiple positions capable of running and creating offense.
Finney-Smith certainly fits somewhere into the Mavs’ defensive picture as the club continues its effort to get younger, faster, and more athletic. Size and length have always won in this league, but speed is now more important than ever, particularly on the defensive side of things. Length and speed can cover up rotation mistakes and it can erase size mismatches. If those versatile defenders can also shoot the ball on the offensive end, it’s even better. Hence, 3-and-D. And that’s where the Mavericks are focusing more so now than they have any time in recent memory, or perhaps ever.
It’s important to remember, though, that just because the rookie has a contract does not give him license to take it easy in Las Vegas. The Mavs have high hopes for him, which breeds equally high expectations. He’ll have to perform well in Summer League and in training camp to earn the trust of Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle, who expects his guys to play with a high level of awareness, maturity, and composure during every game, whether it’s exhibition in July or the Finals in June.
Anderson went through that same process with his head coach last season, and he understands what it takes to handle a rookie season in the league. Regarding advice for A.J. Hammons, the Mavs’ newly signed second-round draft pick, Anderson preached patience as key.
“Whether it’s the league, whether it’s the D-League, whether it’s not playing, whether it’s playing 40 minutes a game, just trust the process and continue to enjoy each day in the NBA, because ultimately we’re finally where we dreamed of being,” he told Mavs.com last week.
That advice will now apply for his new teammate — and partner on the perimeter — Finney-Smith. Fortunately, the Florida grad understands his role, much as Anderson did heading into his rookie season.
“I play both sides of the ball, I can guard a lot of positions, and I do all the little things to contribute to winning,” Finney-Smith told Mavs.com’s Earl K. Sneed in the above video. “I know who I am and I’m gonna try to bring the energy to the game.”
If he can bring that energy to the floor every time he steps into the game, he’ll have no problem carving out a role sooner or later. And alongside Anderson, Matthews, and Barnes, the Mavs will have no problem controlling and patrolling the perimeter when the season begins.
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