Hoops for Troops Commitment to Service

2017 Hoops For Troops

Thursday, November 9th, the Dallas Mavericks staff joined with Dallas Mavericks, Dennis Smith Jr. and Dorian Finney-Smith, dancers, ManiAACs, and Caliber Home Loans to host a “Commitment to Service” volunteerism event.

DALLAS – In celebration of the NBA’s Hoops for Troops week, the Dallas Mavericks partnered with approximately two dozen active military from NAS Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base on Thursday and boxed over 10,000 meals that will go to needy families in North Texas.

One of the active military personnel who helped box meals at American Airlines Center is Grand Prairie’s Tiffany Parker, who jumped at the chance to help those who could use a helping hand.

“This is a great opportunity for us to get out and serve,” Parker said. “Not only just serve the country, but to serve those who are less fortunate than us.”

“Being in the Air Force we’re always taught to service before self, and we have a wing man mentality. So we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure the community is taken care of, and we’ll taking care of those others that are less fortunate than us.”

Along with the military personnel, Mavs rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr., second-year forward Dorian Finney-Smith, the ManiAACs, Mavs Dancers and members of Caliber Home Loans and Mavs staff also helped pack the 10,000-plus meals in less than one hour. The group packed a total of 10,080 meals of jambalaya that were delivered directly to the North Texas Food Bank.

“I think this is great,” Smith said. “It was a really good experience because as a kid this is something I always wanted.”

“Growing up in the area that I did (in Fayetteville, N.C.), I know a lot of kids that wanted something like this to happen to them. So I appreciate the opportunity and I look forward to doing a lot more in the future.”

Last year when he was a rookie during Hoops for Troops week, Finney-Smith helped build a ramp for those who use a wheelchair. So he was more than happy to return this year and offer his support again.

“I’m honored to be able to help the community and give back,” Finney-Smith said. “I love the opportunity to work with the community and make a difference.”

“Last year I built a wheelchair ramp for Hoops for Troops and it was fun, and this year I decided I’m going to pack some food.”

Finney-Smith feels especially indebted to the men and women of the military.

“They sacrifice a lot to be out there for this country,” Finney-Smith said. “To serve in the armed forces and help the world and the community is a great accomplishment.”

The NBA’s Hoops for Troops Week is in conjunction with Veterans Day, which is Saturday.

“Every year the NBA and all of the teams come together to celebrate Hoops For Troops week,” said Katie Edwards, the Director of Community Relations for the Mavs. “It’s a great time for the team, our players and all of our staff and volunteers to join with the military, and we work side-by-side to give back to the community.”

“We’ll do this every year and we like to change our impact and really do lots of different things. We’ve built wheelchair ramps, we’ve done partnerships with the food bank, and this year we were partnered with Feeding Children Everywhere to assemble the meals for those in need who are here in North Texas.”

Krystal Rivera, the Regional Manager for Feeding Children Everywhere, opened an office in Dallas this past year, and it didn’t take her long to figure out who was going to be one of her closest allies.

“We opened up an office here in Dallas as a response to Dallas being the third-largest food desert in America,” said Rivera, whose main headquarters is located in Orlando, Fla. “So when we moved to Dallas, I started reaching out to some really great companies who are known for giving back and being involved in the community, and a common theme was the Mavs.”

“The Mavs give back, they love on their community, and so I connected with the head of their foundation, who is Katie Edwards and who was so open to supporting us once she learned about our mission. I said, ‘Katie, let’s do this together and let’s make something work,’ and here we are.”

Bryan Bergjans, the National Director of Military & Veteran Lending for Caliber Home Loans, also partnered with the Mavs on Thursday’s project. Headquartered in Coppell, Caliber Home Loans work to meet the mortgage needs of the men and women who are serving – or who have served – in the United States Armed Forces.

“Any time we get an opportunity to partner up with the military and do community outreach, we want to do it,” Bergjans said. “The best way to get involved in the community is by doing stuff like this, so partnering up with Mavericks and having an opportunity to partner up with the Air Force really allows us to get involved with our community partners and show our commitment to serving the military and helping.”

“Any time you get to do things where you walk away feeling great about everything and you’re getting involved in the community, it’s fantastic. Caliber Home Loans is fantastic for supporting the military and the community, so any chance that we get in the future to partner up with the Mavericks, we’ll hopefully be able to do it.”

That support by Caliber Home Loans is much appreciated by Clay Jennings, who is a member of the NAS Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base. As music blared in the background while the volunteers were busy packing the boxes with food, Jennings explained what this symbolic day of serving meant to him.

“We wanted to bring out the holiday spirit, bring out the other functions about how the military serves our folks,” Jennings said. “We’re one percent or two percent of the country, so it’s extremely honorable for one, not forgetting about us, and two, it gives us another opportunity to give back in a different way.”

“I’m really humbled, really honored and I truly love this. It’s awesome, we’re thankful, and the public should know we’ve always got their back. No matter what their thoughts and political agenda are, we’re always there.”

A North Carolina State Wolfpack product, Smith can’t wait until next year when he hopes he’ll be selected again to help pay tribute to the military during the NBA’s Hoops for Troops week.

“I met a couple of great people and a fellow Wolfpack, so it’s been a good experience,” Smith said. “It’s all for a good cause — I’m 100 percent in for it.”

“They’re super excited, I came over here excited. Whenever I saw everybody and how excited they were that gave some more life to it, so it was really a good experience for me.”

Finney-Smith also left American Airlines Center with a warm and fuzzy feeling in his heart about his involvement with the troops.

“It’s an honor to be working alongside them knowing how much they sacrificed for the United States,” Finney-Smith said. “All of the people I’ve met through Hoops For Troops have been amazing. Hopefully I can continue doing it.”

Results begin to show for Dorian Finney-Smith after adjustment to ‘easier’ shot

After tinkering with his shot over the summer, Dorian Finney-Smith has come to camp with a new and improved jumper.

Finney-Smith has connected on 3 of 5 attempts from beyond the arc in two appearances this preseason. It’s a small sample, to be sure, but just from watching him in games and during practice it’s clear his mechanics have improved dramatically since the end of his rookie season.

“He’s worked extremely hard on his shooting,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “You can tell his shot’s different, much more efficient.”

Finney-Smith said at the end of last season he got together with Carlisle and a shooting coach to find a way to tweak his jumper. The solution was to eliminate a slight hitch at the top of the jump, during which the forward would bring the ball further behind his head, and instead create a smoother shot.

“I shoot it on the way up now,” Finney-Smith told Mavs.com. “It’s just easier to get the ball to the rim than it was last year. Last year, all my shots were short if I missed. Now, if I miss, it’s hitting the back rim, so that’s always a good thing.”

From a mechanic standpoint, removing that hitch solves two problem. First, it helps Finney-Smith get the shot off quicker, which makes it tougher for a defender to contest. More importantly, it takes pressure off his legs as he shoots. Previously, he’d have to jump higher to shoot so he could still be airborne when he released the shot. Now that he’s shooting on the way up, however, he doesn’t need as much lift.

That might not necessarily make much of a difference in October, but he’ll feel the benefits after the All-Star break. Finney-Smith shot a respectable 34.2 percent from beyond the arc in his first 45 games last season, but in his final 36 (from Jan. 29 through the end of the season) he shot just 22.1 percent from deep. NBA minutes take a toll on your body now matter how old you are, and during his rookie season he ranked fourth on the team in total minutes played. He never quite bounced back from hitting the proverbial “rookie wall” in 2017, but an easier, smoother jump shot should go a long way toward keeping him effective and consistent throughout the 2017-18 season.

The new shot has improved his stat line so far through two preseason games, but the adjustment didn’t pay off immediately when Finney-Smith played in the Las Vegas Summer League. He missed his first 13 3s in the tournament, but he understands that comes with the territory.

“I changed a shot that I’ve been shooting my whole life in one summer,” he said.

“It was discouraging, but it was part of the process,” he added. “The guys stayed on me. ‘Keep shooting.’ Coach told me it’s not gonna be overnight results.”

He kept trucking, making 5 of his final 13 attempts in the desert, good for a 38.5 percent clip during that time. Now he’s shooting 60 percent after two preseason games.

“When you make a significant change to your shot, it’s a lot of work,” Carlisle added. “You’ve got to go through a lot. During the summer league, he didn’t shoot the ball great, but he kept with it. The shot looked good even though it wasn’t going in.”

To give an idea of how much his shot has changed, take a look at the following slow-motion gifs. The first is from last season, while the second is from this preseason. Notice not only a shortened form, but also how much earlier in his jump he’s able to release the ball.

The next angle shows the new form even better. While the shot rims out, it’s a good miss, not one off the front of the rim.

Now that you’ve seen it in slow motion, it should stand out a little more at live speed. In the two examples below, you can not only tell how his form has changed, but you can see he’s able to put more arc on the ball, which gives it a much better chance of going in the basket. The first shot is from the last game of last season.

The second shot’s arc took the ball out of the frame, which is always a good thing. Last season, the ball rarely got more than a couple feet above the rim, which decreases the ball’s chance of finding the net.

Finney-Smith is one of just three traditional wing players on the roster as it stands now, joined only by Wesley Matthews and Harrison Barnes. Basically every other player is below 6-foot-3 or above 6-foot-10. That means each will be expected to produce from the 3 and 4 spots throughout the season, and a huge component of that production is the 3-point shot. We already know the Florida product can defend, but a consistent long-range jumper will do wonders for his game and for the offense. If defenders have to respect his shot, it would open up driving lanes for the guards and clear up traffic when roll men want to rumble downhill into the paint.

His performance against the Magic was a great start to that progress. He shot 3 of 4 from beyond the arc, with his one misfire barely rimming out. It’s not always about the outcome of the shot, of course, as much as it is about the improved form. Or at least that’s what everyone will focus on in the preseason. Once the meaningful games begin, the results are going to be all that matters to the bottom line. Finney-Smith has laid a nice foundation, though.

“I’m just trying to build on that,” he said. “It’s only one game, so hopefully we just keep getting better.”

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.”

Dorian Finney-Smith enters summer hoping to improve his shooting going into Year 2

DALLAS — After displaying lockdown defense throughout his rookie campaign while playing in 81 of 82 games and starting 35 times during the 2016-17 season, 24-year-old forward Dorian Finney-Smith hopes to provide more at the offensive end of the floor for the Dallas Mavericks next year.

This season, the first-year forward averaged 4.3 points and 2.7 rebounds, clocking 20.3 minutes an outing while getting extended playing time when 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki was sidelined due to a right Achilles strain. In the process, Finney-Smith emerged as one of the Mavericks’ top perimeter defenders, guarding the likes of perennial All-Stars LeBron James, Kevin Durant and James Harden during his first year in the NBA. However, Finney-Smith also shot just 37.2 percent from the field and 29.3 percent from behind the three-point arc, struggling to match his defensive success at the offensive end of the floor. That said, the former Florida standout enters the summer well aware that he needs to improve his shooting in order to earn more playing time from Mavs coach Rick Carlisle in Year 2.

“It’s probably going to be the biggest summer of my life, knowing the expectations that come with it,” Finney-Smith admitted after the conclusion of the ’16-17 season. “You know, I played 81 games and I started almost 40, so coaches and everybody see the talent. Now, I’ve just got to get a little bit more consistent with my shot, start putting it down a little bit more and don’t forget what got me here, and that’s playing defense.

“I need to get my shot more consistent,” he added. “I feel like if I knock down the shot and I take a lot, it takes the pressure off guys like [Harrison Barnes] and when I’m on the court with Dirk. … I feel like I can grow a lot more on the court. I feel like I can get a lot better, and I’m going to work until I can’t.”

Finney-Smith showed signs of becoming a knockdown shooter early in his rookie season, connecting on 44.6 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from behind the arc while averaging 6.6 points during a season-high 17 games in the month of December. However, after playing the equivalent of three collegiate seasons during his first NBA campaign, Finney-Smith admittedly hit the proverbial rookie wall.

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 and in scoring in each of his final two campaigns. He also shot a stellar 47.2 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from behind the three-point arc during his junior season at Florida, showing that he can make an impact at both ends of the court. And after averaging 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 in college, Finney-Smith says he will have to work tirelessly this summer in order to improve his offensive repertoire.

“(Defense) was the reason why I got on the court. You know, the things I did on offense was just a plus,” he explained. “But as the season went on, the coaches believed I could do more on offense, so they wanted me to shoot the ball a little bit more. You know, it was an up-and-down year, but it was a great experience for me.”

Dorian Finney-Smith preps for ‘biggest summer’ of his life after productive rookie season

2016-17 Exit Interview: Dorian Finney-Smith

Mavs F Dorian Finney-Smith addresses the media for exit interviews.

DALLAS — Seeing of plenty of playing time during his rookie season after going untaken in last June’s NBA draft, Dallas Mavericks first-year forward Dorian Finney-Smith says he’s just beginning to scratch the surface of how effective he can be moving forward.

With 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki hobbled by a right Achilles strain early in the season, Finney-Smith was thrusted into the starting lineup quickly during his rookie campaign. Finney-Smith then started 35 times during his 81 appearances this season, making the most of his extra playing time with Nowitzki sidelined. But after admittedly hitting the proverbial rookie wall midway through the season, the former Florida standout vows to put in extra work this summer to return a better player in Year 2.

“I played 81 of 82 games, but kind of like right before the All-Star break I was banged up. I just needed a little break from the game, but a lot of my teammates told me it was normal, so they helped me through it,” Finney-Smith explained.

He added: “It’s probably going to be the biggest summer of my life, knowing the expectations that come with it. You know, I played 81 games and I started almost 40, so coaches and everybody see the talent. Now, I’ve just got to get a little bit more consistent with my shot, start putting it down a little bit more and don’t forget what got me here, and that’s defense.”

Defense was certainly the rookie forward’s calling card this season, guarding the likes of perennial All-Stars LeBron James, James Harden and Kevin Durant throughout the course of his first year in the league. But despite a sluggish start to the season at the offensive end, Finney-Smith slowly began to show glimpses of emerging as a knockdown shooter by the end of the grueling 82-game schedule.

All told, the 23-year-old averaged 4.3 points and 2.7 rebounds during his first season, clocking 20.3 minutes an outing. He also shot just 37.2 percent from the field and 29.3 percent from behind the three-point arc. But after shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from behind the arc while averaging 6.6 points during a season-high 17 games in the month of December, Finney-Smith says he will work this summer to find consistency at the offensive end.

“I need to get my shot more consistent,” the 6-foot-8 rookie admitted. “I feel like if I knock down the shot and I take a lot, it takes the pressure off guys like [Harrison Barnes] and when I’m on the court with Dirk. … I feel like I can grow a lot more on the court. I feel like I can get a lot better, and I’m going to work until I can’t.

“(Defense) was the reason I got on the court. You know, the things I did on offense was just a plus. But as the season went on, the coaches believed I could do more on offense, so they wanted me to shoot the ball a little bit more. You know, it was an up-and-down year, but it was a great experience for me.”

Finney-Smith signed as a free agent with Dallas on July 8, joining the Mavericks’ summer-league squad as it competed in Las Vegas. He then showed throughout the season what made him a coveted player for the Dallas front office after playing his final three collegiate seasons at Florida following a transfer from Virginia Tech at the conclusion of his freshman year.

In 134 career collegiate games, the 220-pounder averaged 10.7 points and 7.1 rebounds while leading Florida in rebounding during all three of his seasons there and in scoring in each of his final two campaigns. But after earning the trust of Mavs coach Rick Carlisle and his veteran teammates, Finney-Smith says he’s eager to prove his worth next year with one professional season and a summer of training under his belt.

“It helped me,” Finney-Smith said of his rookie season. “You know, I got the chance to guard some great players, and coach (Carlisle) challenged me to guard a lot of great talent. I just went out there and tried to do my best.

“I’ve still got that chip on my shoulder, along with several guys in the locker room with me. But this is a great place for me. You know, it’s a great organization, and we’ve got great teammates. A lot of them really helped me out this year.”

Wesley Matthews relished role as mentor for Mavs’ undrafted rookies

2016-17 Exit Interview: Wesley Matthews

Mavs G Wesley Matthews addresses the media for exit interviews.

DALLAS — Despite seeing a slight increase in his production during his second campaign with the Dallas Mavericks, versatile swingman Wesley Matthews’ biggest impact throughout the 2016-17 season may have come in the locker room while serving as a mentor for the team’s young contributors.

This season, the 30-year-old Matthews averaged 13.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists an outing while playing in 73 games. He also connected on 39.3 percent from the field and 36.3 percent from behind the three-point arc, continuing to provide stellar outside shooting in his second season with the team after signing a reported four-year deal worth $70 million last summer. But after seeing the Mavericks’ playoff hopes dashed by countless injuries during a 33-49 campaign, Matthews says the team’s veterans and young players must return next year motivated by their lackluster record.

“We need to stay healthy,” Matthews matter-of-factly said. “You know, in my two years here, it’s been a lot of what-ifs because of injuries, and that’s just part of the game. But everybody just needs to take the offseason, get better, let the frustrations of stuff that we could control kind of be in our minds and come back with a mentality that this isn’t going to happen again until later in the year.”

Going untaken in the 2009 draft after earning second-team All-Big East honors at Marquette as a senior, Matthews related to the Mavericks’ young contributors and unsung heroes this season.

All told, the Mavs finished the season with four undrafted rookies on the roster in point guard Yogi Ferrell, first-year forward Dorian Finney-Smith, midseason addition Jarrod Uthoff and Argentine swingman Nicolas Brussino. Second-round draft pick A.J. Hammons also gained experience late in the season after a stint with the Mavericks’ NBA Development League affiliate, the Texas Legends. Matthews and the Mavs now hope all of the young contributors can expand their games during the summer to return better players next season. But according to Finney-Smith, it was Matthews’ mentorship and tutelage that helped him get through the grueling 82-game schedule during the ’16-17 campaign.

“He did a lot, man. I mean, I learned a lot through the adversity this year, especially shooting droughts, and he never let me doubt myself,” Finney-Smith said while praising his veteran mentor after playing in 81 games as a rookie. “He always stayed on me, and he always told me to remember what got me on the court. So, whatever happens on offense, just make sure you keep doing what you’re doing.”

Finney-Smith was just one of the many young players on the roster that Matthews took under his wings this season as the Mavericks’ veterans suffered through an injury-riddle year. But it’s the experience that the Mavs’ young contributors gained this season that Matthews says will be beneficial as the team tries to make a playoff push again next year.

Matthews now expects for the first- and second-year pros to enter the summer motivated for more success after gaining valuable on-court experience this season. That said, the eight-year veteran will admittedly continue to push the young pros for more personal and team success moving forward.

“I mean, I expect for them to keep working,” Matthews proclaimed. “All of the young guys were essentially undrafted, so I can relate to all of them. And they should be angry regardless. They shouldn’t need much motivation. With us not making the playoffs, fortunately, it gave them more opportunity to play and more opportunity to grow as players, to get real-time minutes and be in situations like that. So, learn from that, and just be hungry for more.

“They got better every week and every month. You know, as games went on, you’d see something else, and they’re receptive. They listened, and they work hard.”

Mavs have shown knack for finding diamonds in the rough

For so many kids that grow up dribbling a basketball, hearing their name on the night of the NBA draft is something that only happens when they close their eyes and let their dreams go wild. Blood, sweat and tears go into making that dream a reality, but it only happens for 60 players each year.

It’s something that a significant part of the Mavericks core this season never got to experience.

Wesley Matthews, Seth Curry, J.J. Barea, Dorian Finney-Smith and Yogi Ferrell have all played major roles in the revival of the Mavericks as they chase the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Perhaps more importantly, whether it’s young talent or veteran leadership, they’re a big reason why there is optimism for the Mavericks going forward.

However, when teams had their chances to select these guys on draft night, they passed.

Matthews is the lone member of this list that had established himself in the NBA prior to putting on a Mavericks jersey. After a stint with the Utah Jazz, he showed he belonged in the NBA during his time in Portland, which ultimately landed him a four-year, $70 million contract with the Mavericks in the summer of 2015. Despite all of that, his emotions from draft night in 2009 linger.

“Every negative emotion that you can think of,” Matthews recalled. “Pissed off, angry. Just everything.”

Matthews said that going undrafted may have had some positives as a byproduct, such as the structure of his first contract and an additional chip on his shoulder but his demeanor would’ve stayed the same regardless.

Barea, who went undrafted in 2006, played an intricate role in bringing the Mavericks a championship in 2011. When the team was down 2-1 against the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, head coach Rick Carlisle inserted Barea into the starting lineup. The Mavericks didn’t lose another game in that series.

“It definitely gives you a little more motivation to prove people wrong,” Barea said.

Curry’s road to stardom has been a long one. He went undrafted in 2013 and though he said he was anxious that night, he knew the circumstances were stacked against him as he came off of surgery. Despite enjoying success this year with the Mavericks in his first extended opportunity, it’s not something he readily reflects on.

“I’m in the moment,” Curry said. “I’m trying to continue to earn my spot, trying to continue to play well. Same work ethic, same mindset. End of the season I’ll think about it and what I’ve accomplished but right now it’s a matter of just staying in the moment and continue to get better.”

Matthews, Barea and Curry have enough tape to shed the stigma of going undrafted. Guys like Finney-Smith and Ferrell are less than a year removed from being draft hopefuls, but both have shown signs they’ll be key cogs for the future of the franchise.

Finney-Smith said being in a locker room with players that share similar backgrounds has definitely helped his development.

“We kind of all brushed on it,” Finney-Smith said. “Guys telling you they’ve been in your shoes and how they overcame it, so all of them helped me. When I first got here, Wes told me playing hard and playing defense was going to get me on the team and I just kept doing it.”

Ferrell, who recently collected his Kia Western Conference Rookie of the Month hardware, said while the undrafted tag will never change, he’s focused on capitalizing on the opportunity he has now.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Ferrell said. “Play well, make the most of our opportunity and that’s just it.”

Head coach Rick Carlisle said there are a couple of factors that play into the success of the undrafted players in the Mavericks locker room. One of the biggest is being around players like Dirk Nowitzki and Harrison Barnes, consummate professionals with an extraordinary work ethic.

The plethora of injuries veteran Mavericks suffered early in the season also presented opportunities for the likes of Curry, Finney-Smith and Ferrell. Their prosperity is not an accident.

“Our people do a really good job of finding guys that not only have a skillset that can be an NBA skillset but also a level of desire and tenacity,” Carlisle said.

For his part, Carlisle puts the players in the best position possible to be successful.

“I think it’s important to be open-minded and to do what you can to enable guys to have success,” Carlisle said.

Despite being deemed unworthy of a pick on draft night, these five players have combined to play over 6,500 minutes for the Mavericks. They’ve proven they belong in this league and give Mavs fans something to be excited about for years to come.

“Once you’re an NBA player, you’re an NBA player,” Curry said. “No matter where you were drafted or not drafted.”