DALLAS – There are those within the Dallas Mavericks’ organization who staunchly believe that if Dorian Finney-Smith can make some marked improvements in his perimeter game over the offseason, that will give him the cache needed to become a complete ballplayer.
It’s no secret that Finney-Smith is one of the Mavs’ best defenders. The lanky 6-8, 220-pounder has proven that he can adequately guard four positions on the court.
But it’s Finney-Smith shooting stroke that needs a boost. Thus, that has become his point of emphasis over the offseason, especially at the 3-point line.
“I’ve already been working on that, but I’m just going to dial in on that and keep getting better,” Finney-Smith said. “I felt like I made some strides at the end of the year, but it can always get better.”
Finney-Smith averaged 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game this season. But he shot just 38 percent from the field and 28.8 percent from 3-point range.
“We know he can guard, we know he’s an athletic wing, a multi-position guy,” said Donnie Nelson, the Mavs’ president of basketball operations. “So I would say really getting confidence in that 3-point shot (is the next step).
“But I think there’s more than just being a 3-and-D guy there under the hood. Those things take time and Dorian’s committed to a big summer, as is all of our young guys.”
Of course, an injury handcuffed Finney-Smith this season, derailing his ability to be the best that he can be. The second-year pro missed 55 games due to tendinitis in his left quadriceps and eventually wound up playing only 21 games this year.
Finney-Smith ultimately returned to the lineup on Mar. 10 and produced seven points and three rebounds in 18 minutes during a 114-80 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. But he missed three of the next eight games – two of them were connected to back-to-backs – while returning from injury management.
“It was tough, it was almost a microcosm of our season – kind of disjointed,” Nelson said. “He had a really nice first year, and then with the injury and then coming back and trying to rush. . .
“(He’s) another guy that wanted to get back as quick as possible for the team and probably put himself in not a great position, and then we had to take a more conservative approach. So I think in general with Dorian it’s going to be him extending his range and then just taking the next step.”
In the final four games of this season, Finney-Smith averaged 13.3 points and 6.5 rebounds, and shot 40.4 percent from the floor and 34.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. That includes registering a double-double – 15 points and 10 rebounds – during an Apr. 6 contest against the Detroit Pistons when he converted half of his six 3-point field goals.
“Offensively, I just keep getting better with my shot, getting more consistent,” Finney-Smith said. “Now I want to start dribbling the ball a lot more.
“Even though I know I can do it, I’m just getting comfortable because I feel like I can pass the ball and I can help the team a lot when I’m being aggressive.”
That aggression by Finney-Smith continues off the court, too, as he decides whether to play on the Mavs’ summer league team in Las Vegas in July. By NBA rule, Finney-Smith doesn’t have to play summer league basketball any more since he’s been in the league for two seasons.
However, he said, “I like to hoop, so if (the Mavs) tell me to play, then I’ll play. And if they tell me don’t, I don’t. I’m just pretty much leaving it up to them.”
Finney-Smith, who has a team option that will pay him $1.54 million next season, also is listening to advice from his agent, Frank Catapano.
“He just told me to keep working,” Finney-Smith said. “My agent, he knows me. He told me don’t push myself too hard too early.
“So right now I’m just trying to take care of my knee. All I can focus on right now is my health.”
Still, since his best friend on the Mavs – point guard Dennis Smith –will play in the summer league, Finney-Smith wants to be there for support.
“I know he’s going to be there, so it won’t hurt (to also be there),” Finney-Smith said. “I wouldn’t mind playing.
“But also, I didn’t play much last year. So playing summer league might be an option.”
An option that will give Finney-Smith more time to work on his perimeter game.
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