In NBA.com’s annual survey, NBA GMs voted Mavs rookie Dennis Smith Jr. the biggest steal on draft night. The 19-year-old rookie earned 37 percent of the vote.
Smith was the ninth overall pick on draft night and the fifth player at his own position selected. The first-year player who passes like a point guard and dunks like a forward dazzled at the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 17.3 points and 4.2 assists per game as the Mavs advanced to the semifinals.
Were it not for an ACL injury he suffered in high school, it’s hard to imagine how much higher Smith might have been drafted. In addition, his NC State team didn’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament last season, which may have played a role in him slipping to No. 9. The Mavs did their due diligence throughout the scouting process, however, and drafted him anyway. So far, Smith has done nothing but eat, sleep, and breathe basketball, spending plenty of time in the gym and the film room with head coach Rick Carlisle.
Carlisle also earned some recognition in the survey, once again receiving the nod as the coach who makes the best in-game adjustments. Carlisle received 34 percent of the vote, narrowly beating out Boston’s Brad Stevens (31 percent).
This is Carlisle’s 10th season at the helm as Mavs head coach, and he’s increasingly gaining more respect around the league as one of the best minds. He also earned votes for best coach, the best motivator of people, and the coach who runs the best offense.
Mavs fans will of course hope that Carlisle can bring the best out of Smith in his rookie season to prove GMs around the league right. If those two click, this could be a fun, successful team for years to come.