From Dorian Finney-Smith’s standpoint, the 2018-’19 season was the best time he’s ever had on the basketball court.
That’s because it enabled the Dallas Mavericks’ forward to recapture what he lost the previous season.
Finney-Smith missed a whopping 61 of a possible 82 games during the 2017-’18 campaign due to tendinitis in his left quadriceps. But the third-year veteran worked overtime in getting himself back on the right path and wound up playing more games (81) this past season than any of his teammates.
What’s more, the 6-8, 220-pounder produced career highs in scoring (7.5), rebounding (4.8) and field goal shooting (43.2 percent), although admitted he would like to see his 3-point shooting percentage increase exponentially higher than the 31.1 percent he shot during the 2018-’19 campaign.
“I feel like I made some strides on the court this year,” Finney-Smith said. “Obviously I try to bring energy at the defensive end, but I just tried to find ways to affect the game — rebounding and just trying to make game-winning plays, getting my hands on balls and getting some steals, and l blocked shots.
“I felt like early in the year I was shooting the ball real good and towards the end it slowed down. But overall I feel I had a really good year. . .but I’ve still got work to do.”
While no one underestimates the solid job Finney-Smith consistently turns in on the defensive end of the floor, the word on the street is that if he can consistently hit a mid-range jumper or bury more than his fair share of 3-point shots, that would elevate his game to extreme new heights and make him more difficult to contain. Thus, that aspect of his game – along with being able to effectively handle the ball and run the offense as a point forward — is precisely what the University of Florida product plans to work on this offseason.
“The game’s turned into a lot more flow,” Finney-Smith said. “So (it’ll be great) just to be able to read and react without a whole bunch of play-calling.”
Meanwhile, that injury that limited Finney-Smith to just 21 games during the 2017-’18 season made him appreciate the game even more. During that time frame, he saw what he missed and he didn’t like it.
“I understand why he’s saying that,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “When you miss a significant amount of time during the season because of injury – and you’re playing hurt – the game is not fun.
“I’ve been through that. But he worked extremely hard to get healthy.”
Finney-Smith becomes a free agent on July 1, and obviously doesn’t know what the future holds. But he definitely wasn’t shy about expressing where he wants to be.
“I want to be here, but we know it’s a business,” Finney-Smith said. “I’m just going to keep getting better and control the things I can control and I think things will fall in place.”
Finney-Smith has yet to participate in the playoffs since he joined the NBA. But he quantified that by saying: “That last home game felt like a playoff game.”
Finney-Smith was referring to the regular season home finale on Apr. 9 against Phoenix when several dignitaries were on hand as Dirk Nowitzki announced after that game against the Suns that he was retiring from the NBA.
Still, Finney-Smith is chomping at the bit at an opportunity to make his postseason debut and believes this young Mavs squad has what it takes to get there.
“I know everybody in that locker room they’re ready for next year because we all want to make it to the playoffs, we all talk about it,” Finney-Smith said. “I’m drooling at the mouth to get there.
“I feel like everybody is going to get better individually this summer for us to reach that goal. I feel like we’ve got a great young core. We like being around each other. I know it ain’t going to be easy. We just got to trust the process.”
It’s a process similar to what Finney-Smith had to trust following his injury-plagued ’17-’18 season.
“I’m blessed to be able to play the game I love, even though last year I was hurt,” he said. “This year I’m just happy that I got a chance to play almost every game.”
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