Quinn Cook hopes to make impact on 10-day deal with Mavericks

One-on-one with Quinn Cook

New Mav Quinn Cook goes one-on-one with Earl K. Sneed prior to tonight's game against the Miami Heat.

A few hours after winning the NBA D-League All-Star Game MVP, then-Canton Charge point guard Quinn Cook was stuck at an airport, waiting to get out of New Orleans and back to the grind at home in Ohio.

Just a week later, he’s earned the chance to call Dallas home for the rest of the season.

Cook’s 18-point, 12-assist performance in the All-Star Game was a nice representation of who he is as a player. In 35 appearances for Canton this season, he’s averaged 26.1 points and 6.7 assists per game, and he had been widely considered the best point guard prospect at that level before he and the Mavericks agreed to terms on a 10-day contract on Sunday. He could play his first NBA minutes as early as tonight.

“I was totally excited,” Cook said. “I called my mom, called my sister, called my brothers and coaches. I’m just extremely excited and humbled for the opportunity.”

The 23-year-old has enjoyed success at virtually all levels of basketball. He was a key member of the 2015 NCAA national champion Duke Blue Devils squad, averaging 15.3 points and 2.6 assists per game while mostly playing off-guard. He’s familiar with many players on this roster; Cook was a freshman when fellow Maverick Seth Curry began his junior year at Duke, and that also overlapped with Harrison Barnes’ sophomore season at fierce rival North Carolina.

He also played at Oak Hill Academy with Mavs rookie A.J. Hammons. Cook’s best friend, Victor Oladipo, played college ball at Indiana next to Yogi Ferrell. Connections abound.

Ferrell’s 10-day success with the Mavericks certainly caught the attention of Cook, who at that point was rumored to be drawing interest from multiple NBA clubs. The way he sees it, a rising tide lifts all boats.

“We all root for guys who get called up,” Cook said. “I think guys who prosper from getting called up on 10-day contracts give us lots of confidence. I remember watching every game against the Spurs, Cavs, and Portland. We were all rooting for him, and that gives us confidence. He did an amazing job.”

Ferrell’s success at this level has also got to have Cook thinking that if he can step in right away and contribute, there could be an opportunity to stick around for at least a second 10-day deal, and perhaps the rest of the season if he can impress the Mavericks. Dallas needs help at the point guard position after waiving Deron Williams last week and while J.J. Barea remains sidelined due to injury. Even when the Puerto Rican point returns, the Mavs will still only have two active point guards, leaving room for Cook if he can prove he belongs in his first real NBA stint.

Part of the reason Ferrell fit in right away is because he has a tremendous basketball IQ. Cook is looking to show the same quality, and that’s the right way to go. Dallas values IQ in its point guards perhaps more than any other trait.

“I’ve won everywhere, so I have some good habits,” Cook said. “I know the terminology. It’s been an easy transition for this first practice.”

Similarly, this is yet another chance for an undrafted player to make an impact with the Mavericks. Look up and down the roster, and you’ll notice Dallas has by far more undrafted players than any other team in the NBA. Whether those guys use it as motivation is their own prerogative, but it’s got to be a point of pride for the Mavs’ player development program that so many young guys have played well despite not generating enough buzz when they came out of college.

For Cook, the one-and-a-half seasons he spent in the D-League gave him a chance to move back to point guard — he’d played out of position as an upperclassman at Duke — and show what he has to offer. Clearly, he took advantage of that chance.

“These last two years, I felt I’ve gotten better every day,” he said. “Just learning from pros, playing against first-round picks, guys who have been in the NBA, it’s some good competition down there. It’s just me getting better every day, trying to get to the NBA for a long time.”