Mavs’ Dorian Finney-Smith looks to be vocal leader, expand his game during Las Vegas summer league

Practice Report: Dorian Finney-Smith

Mavs F Dorian Finney-Smith dishes on gearing up for the Las Vegas summer league, Dennis Smith Jr. and more.

DALLAS — Despite seeing the most time on the court of any first-year player on the Dallas Mavericks’ roster during the 2016-17 season after playing in 81 of 82 games, versatile forward Dorian Finney-Smith knew he needed to work on expanding his skillset this summer in order to return a better player in Year 2.

Finney-Smith averaged 4.3 points and 2.7 rebounds last season, clocking 20.3 minutes an outing while playing extended minutes when 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki was sidelined due to a right Achilles strain early in the schedule. However, the undrafted rookie also shot just 37.2 percent from the field and 29.3 percent from behind the three-point arc, struggling to match the lockdown defense that he supplied at the offensive end of the floor. The 24-year-old then committed to working on his overall game this offseason in the Mavericks’ summer conditioning program. And according to Mavs summer-league head coach Jamahl Mosley, fans will see the strides Finney-Smith has made during the league’s upcoming 10-day tournament, which will take place July 7-17 in Las Vegas.

“He’s a worker, he’s a big-time defender, he’s a big-time glue guy, and now the one thing that he’s doing consistently throughout the summer is he’s making shots. You’re going to ask him to do that, but also the other intangibles he does well. I think he’s just adding to it,” Mosley said while praising Finney-Smith during the Mavs’ three-day minicamp before departing for Las Vegas.

“A lot of rookies walk in, and some get minutes here, sporadic there, but what he’s done is he’s played consistent minutes,” the coach added. “I think he’s one of the guys who has played 81 out of 82 games as a rookie. And for your confidence level to know that you can come to this level and play as a rookie is big.”

The 6-foot-8, 220-pounder averaged 10.7 points and 7.1 rebounds in 134 career collegiate games while leading Florida in rebounding during all three of his seasons there. He also led the Gators in scoring in each of his final two campaigns, shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from behind the three-point arc during his junior season. He then upped his production to averages of 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds while connecting on 43.7 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc during his senior season. But after a lackluster rookie season at the offensive end, Finney-Smith says he’s ready to show his progression as a player and as a leader during summer-league play.

“Well, first of all, I’ve been working on my shot, trying to stop putting it so far behind my head and keeping it in front,” Finney-Smith proclaimed. “I’m working on my ball-handling with [Mavs basketball development coach God Shammgod], and in summer league right now I’m playing the four and trying to expand my game. You know, I’m playing the four and the three.

“I know I have to be a little bit more vocal, playing 81 games and playing a lot of NBA minutes. Not even noticing, but guys look up to you ’cause you did play that many minutes, so I was designated to be the guy to be verbal and help this team get wins. … You know, we’ve got a lot of roster guys on this team, and I feel like we should have a successful week or however long we’re there. You know, we’ve all been here the whole summer working out, so I’ve seen them get better. It’s just going to be on us to perform. I know coach (Mosley) will put us in the right situation. We’ve just got to go out there and execute.”