Mavs are grooming rookie Dennis Smith Jr. to be ‘cornerstone for franchise’

2017 Media Day: Dennis Smith Jr.

Dennis Smith Jr. looks ahead to the 2017-18 season with Mark and Coop.

DALLAS — Although the Dallas Mavericks admit that they won’t place too much responsibility on point guard Dennis Smith Jr.’s shoulders early in his first season, coach Rick Carlisle and the team’s veterans will attempt to groom the team’s first-round draft pick into a cornerstone for the franchise throughout his rookie year.

Opening up training camp Tuesday prior to beginning the 2017-18 schedule at home against Atlanta on Oct. 18, the Mavericks will try to bounce back from a 33-49 campaign last season. In order to do so, Carlisle is hopeful the Mavs can hit the ground running with Smith in the starting lineup. Still, according to the coach, it’s important that fans and the Mavs’ veterans understand that Smith will go through his fair share of growing pains this upcoming season.

“I understand the level of excitement, and people should be excited. You know, this kid is going to show really some amazing things that we haven’t seen at the point guard position ever with this franchise. That said, this is a learning process,” Carlisle said Monday while addressing the Dallas media. “On Draft Night I projected him as a starter, and my plan at this point is going to be to start him. And so, you know, that’s a lot of responsibility, but he needs to learn quickly. The best way for a guy like him to learn quickly is to be thrown out there and be put in a position to have to do it. He’s a competitor and he’s a prideful kid, and he’s serious about this.”

Spending just one year at North Carolina State before entering the NBA Draft, the 19-year-old Smith became the first player to lead the ACC among freshmen in points and assists since Ed Cota during the ’96-97 season during his lone collegiate campaign. He also filled up the stat sheet last season with the Wolfpack while averaging 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists, connecting on 45.5 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from behind the three-point arc. But according to Smith’s veteran teammates, the rookie may just be beginning to tap into his full potential.

2017 Media Day: Rick Carlisle

Rick Carlisle looks ahead to the 2017-18 season with Mark and Coop.

Smith averaged 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals during six games of the MGM Resorts Summer League in Las Vegas back in July, earning a spot on the All-NBA Summer League First Team while leading the Mavericks to a 5-1 record. In doing so, the cat-quick guard earned the praise of his peers within the rookie class. He’s now quickly impressed the Mavericks’ veterans during pick-up games in Dallas, according to 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and leading scorer Harrison Barnes. That said, the Mavs’ veterans fully expect Smith to come in and have an immediate impact on the team.

“I’ve seen Dennis now the last few weeks scrimmaging a little bit in the gym, and I’ve rarely seen an athlete like this at the point guard spot,” Nowitzki proclaimed. “He’s just freakish when he goes down the lane and how easy he goes. You know, he just pushes off his calves a little bit, and next thing you know he’s at the rim. He’s just really quick, really explosive, and he’s actually a decent passer. He’s a good decision maker already at that age, so I think he’s going to be hopefully a cornerstone for our franchise for a long, long time. He’s going to be fun to play with and he’s going to be fun to watch for our fans for a long, long time. But you know, as I always say, rookie years sometimes are tough. You’re going through stretches were the games just keep coming, and at times you may seem overwhelmed. You’ve just got to fight through those times. And if he does, the sky is the limit. I mean, he’s explosive and he’s got all the tools, so I’m looking forward to him hopefully having a long, long career here.”

“I think he has the ability to play bigger than his position,” Barnes added. “From his ability to rebound and block shots in transition, his ability to switch on guards and not be overpowered, I think those are good attributes that allow him to handle the rigors of the league. We’re going to be trying to do more switches this year, and he will help us be more successful.”

Dennis Smith Jr. will play to prove his believers right; not to prove his naysayers wrong during rookie season

DALLAS — He was with the fifth point guard taken in June’s NBA Draft, watching helplessly as four players at his position went ahead of him. However, despite sliding in the draft and falling to the Dallas Mavericks with the ninth overall pick in the first round, rookie floor general Dennis Smith Jr. says he won’t play with a chip on his shoulders this upcoming season in order to prove his naysayers wrong.

Seeing the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers select Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball with the top two picks in June’s draft, respectively, Smith watched as a pair of players at his position were taken off the board immediately. The Sacramento Kings then grabbed former Kentucky standout De’Aaron Fox with the No. 5 overall pick for the third point guard taken in the first round. And after the New York Knicks opted to select Frenchman Frank Ntilikina with the eighth pick, Smith says he was thankful the stage was set for him to land in Dallas.

“I’m ultra thankful. You know, everybody believes that they should be the first pick, but that’s not everyone’s destiny. It can’t be. You know, mathematically, that doesn’t add up. I got picked ninth, and I’m thankful for that,” Smith matter-of-factly said earlier this summer.

“It’s been great,” he added. “You know, I think it’s a blessing that I landed here, ’cause it’s such a winning program. Everyone wants to win and it’s a selfless mentality, and that’s what I’m all about. So, I think it’s a perfect fit for me. … I’m super excited. It was a lot of people taken in front of me, and everybody believes that they’re the best. I truly believe that I’m the best player, and I want to show it.”

Bouncing back from a torn ACL that cost him his senior season in high school, Smith dazzled last year with North Carolina State while showing no signs of the injury. He also turned heads during the MGM Resorts Summer League in Las Vegas back in July, giving Mavs fans a glimpse of what’s to come this season while leading his team to the semifinals of the tournament and a 5-1 record. But according to Smith, everything that he already has accomplished and will achieve this upcoming season can be attributed to the confidence he receives from his family and support system.

The 19-year-old became the first player to lead the ACC among freshmen in points and assists since Ed Cota during the ’96-97 season during his lone collegiate campaign, filling up the stat sheet last season with the Wolfpack to average 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists. He also connected on 45.5 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from behind the three-point arc, making him an attractive prospect for the Dallas front office in the draft. From there, Smith averaged 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals in six games to earn a spot on the All-NBA Summer League First Team. And with the support of his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C., Smith says he’s confident he can carry that success over to his rookie season.

“You know, I was extremely motivated by my family,” Smith explained. “They all believed in me, and they knew that I could come back (from the injury) and be an even better player. And I came out and showed that. I’m just motivated to prove the people that believe in me right. There’s no chip (on my shoulders).

“Everybody is not able to make it to this point, especially where I’m from. So, me being able to come out and just play basketball at the highest level is a blessing. I’m thankful for that. Fayetteville, my family, I’m a product of my environment. You know, I chose the right path, and everybody wants to choose the right path. A lot of people that end up in the wrong things played basketball or football, and they’ve got the same aspirations as I have. And being able to come out and do it whenever they can’t, whether it’s by death or by prison, I think that’s a blessing. I feel a ton of pride representing where I’m from, everybody that can’t do it and my whole family. I take a lot of pride with that. … I think it’s more than just basketball with that. That’s the way I was raised to be as a man. And that’s a credit to my whole family, especially my father. And it just translates from being a man to basketball.”

Dennis Smith Jr. looks forward to Dirk Nowitzki’s mentorship during rookie season

DALLAS — One player is set to join an exclusive fraternity of players, entering his 20th season with the Dallas Mavericks during the 2017-18 campaign. The other is just beginning his NBA journey, starting his rookie season with the Mavericks after just one year at the collegiate level.

Still, according to Mavs rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., he and 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki figure to form a bond during the upcoming season while hoping to lead the team back to the playoffs.

Selected with the No. 9 pick in June’s NBA Draft, the 19-year-old Smith admittedly aspires to reach the accolades that Nowitzki already has accomplished in his storied career. Nowitzki ascended to No. 6 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list last season, despite playing in just 54 games during the ’16-17 campaign for his lowest number of outings since his rookie year. He also averaged 14.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game, connecting on 43.7 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from three-point range while battling a nagging right Achilles strain. Nowitzki, 39, added to his growing list of achievements as well by becoming just the sixth player in league history to reach the 30,000-point plateau, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419). And with the 7-footer set to join Bryant as the sole members of the NBA’s 20-year, only-one-team club, Smith hopes to learn from Nowitzki’s knowledge of the game during his rookie year.

“I believe that when two great minds, and I’m not a great mind yet, but I’m looking forward to being that and learning from him. Learning from Dirk, I believe that when two great minds get together success happens,” Smith candidly said during his introductory press conference back in June when asked about teaming with Nowitzki this season.

“It’s going to be hard to explain,” he added. “I haven’t had the chance to meet him yet, and I think after I meet him I can answer that question better. But I’m sure it’s going to be exciting. It will be exciting for both of us, I’m sure, and something new.”

Already the NBA’s top all-time foreign-born scorer, in addition to being the league’s active leading scorer and the longest-tenured player with one team, Nowitzki joined Bryant (Lakers), former Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton and ex-San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan as the only players in league history that have spent their entire careers with one franchise and played 19-plus seasons. Nowitzki also became just the third player in league history to score 30,000 points with one franchise, joining Malone and Bryant on that short list. But while entering the ’17-18 schedule just 1,159 points away from tying Chamberlain for fifth on the league’s all-time scoring list, Nowitzki’s greatest impact on the team this season may come by taking Smith under his wings.

While Smith is certainly a long way from reaching Nowitzki’s heights, he quickly emerged as a rookie to watch after his impressive play during the MGM Resorts Summer League in Las Vegas last month. The former North Carolina State standout averaged 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals in six games as the Mavericks’ summer squad advanced to the semifinals of the tournament with a 5-1 record. Those numbers helped to earn Smith a spot on the All-NBA Summer League First Team, beginning his professional career in the right direction. That said, the cat-quick guard knows he still has much to learn about the NBA game during his first professional season. And while acting as a sponge for Nowitzki’s knowledge of the game, Smith says he expects to grow under the veteran’s tutelage on a daily basis this season.

“You know, I think it’s a blessing that I landing here, because it’s such a winning program,” Smith explained. “Everybody wants to win, and it’s a selfless mentality. That’s what I’m all about, so it’s a perfect fit for me.

“I’ve got a lot of things to learn about the pro game, ’cause obviously, this is my first time playing in it. And I think I’m taking it all in right now. I’m all ears from the hotel all the way until the game is over, so I’m taking everything in that I’m supposed to.”

After impressive Summer League, Dennis Smith Jr. turns his attention to prepping for rookie season

DALLAS — After dazzling fans with highlight-reel plays throughout the MGM Resorts Summer League in Las Vegas earlier this month, Dallas Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. has immediately turned his attention to preparing for the upcoming 2017-18 season.

Garnering at spot on the All-NBA Summer League First Team, Smith filled up the stat sheet during the Mavericks’ six games in Las Vegas by averaging 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals per outing. He also showed the ability to score in a multitude of ways, shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Still, after success against some of the league’s up-and-coming stars, Smith feels that his game will continue to grow during his rookie season. That said, the ninth pick in June’s NBA Draft is admittedly eager to join forces with veterans like 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, leading scorer Harrison Barnes and sharpshooter Wesley Matthews during the Mavs’ training camp in late September.

“I grew a lot. I learned a lot about the NBA game,” Smith said after leading the Mavs’ summer-league squad to the semifinals of the 10-day tournament.

“Individual things don’t matter,” he added. “You know, I’m just moving on from summer league now and getting ready for training camp. I wouldn’t say it gives me an upper hand on anything. There’s no vets out there. You know, it helped me with conditioning. I got used to playing the NBA game, and that’s the biggest thing.”

The 19-year-old Smith is no stranger to individual accolades, earning Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year and All-ACC Second Team honors during his lone collegiate season at North Carolina State. He also was the first player in ACC history to record two triple-doubles in the same season during conference play, becoming the first player to lead the ACC among freshmen in points and assists since Ed Cota during the ’96-97 season. But despite averaging 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists during his freshman season, Smith may have just begun to tap into his full potential in the Mavs’ system.

Scoring 14 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing six assists in 25 minutes, Smith had an impressive summer-league debut as the Mavericks captured a 91-75 victory over Chicago. He followed that performance up with a 25-point explosion the next day, leading the Mavs to an 88-77 victory over No. 4 overall draft pick Josh Jackson and the Phoenix Suns. Two days later, Smith picked up where he left off at with 16 points, three rebounds, five assists and three steals in a 78-73 victory against Miami to remain unbeaten. Another 25-point effort would come against No. 5 overall draft pick De’Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings during an 83-76 win. But despite scoring just three points on 1-of-6 shooting in Dallas’ 91-74 win over Boston in the quarterfinals, Smith bounced back to post 21 points, three rebounds, six assists and two steals in a losing effort as the Mavericks fell to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers. And according to Mavs summer-league coach Jamahl Mosley, it’s that growth that will serve Smith well during the ’17-18 season.

“I keep saying this, and I’ll say it time and time again: He’s grown,” Mosley said while speaking highly of the first-year floor general. “He has the ability to learn on the fly, and he has the ability to process things in-game. As he gets going more and more, and as the season goes along, he’s going to grow for each game. It’s a continuous process, and he’s shown that he can continue to grow.”

Dennis Smith Jr. looks to become ‘quarterback’ of Mavs’ veteran-laden team from Day 1

DALLAS — He was known for his explosiveness, athleticism and uncanny ability to score the ball at the point guard position during his lone collegiate season at North Carolina State. Now, first-round draft pick Dennis Smith Jr. hopes to prove quickly he can be a leader for the Dallas Mavericks during his first season in the NBA.

Taken by the Mavericks with the No. 9 overall pick in last week’s NBA Draft, Smith will admittedly have lofty expectations placed on his shoulders in Year 1. The 19-year-old averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from behind the three-point arc last season, garnering the Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year Award and a spot on the All-ACC Second Team. He then dazzled the Mavs during his pro day by showcasing lateral quickness and a 48-inch vertical, making him the obvious choice for the Dallas front office in the draft. However, despite possessing raw athleticism that figures to translate well to the NBA, Smith’s ability to facilitate and make his teammates better was in question during the draft process. That said, he’ll now attempt to prove his naysayers wrong by leading a veteran-laden team back to the playoffs after a 33-49 season.

“It’s just something that I learned growing up. I’ve played point guard my whole life. I wasn’t one of the kids that grew super early, so my whole life I’ve been learning how to get people involved and create my own shots,” Smith explained last week during his introductory press conference with the Dallas media. “I’ve been doing this since I was probably nine years old and just finding that balance, so it’s pretty easy for me now.

“We’ve got a lot of veteran guys as well, but part of being a point guard is the same thing as being a quarterback. Regardless of what year it is, you’ve got to come in and lead. Whether it’s by example or vocally, you’ve got to accept that responsibility.”

Joining forces with 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and leading scorer Harrison Barnes, Smith will now attempt to boost an offensive attack that ranked near the bottom of the league last season. He’ll also try to find a balance between getting his teammates involved and looking for his own shot.

The Dallas offense ranked 30th in scoring during the 2016-17 season, producing just 97.9 points per game. The Mavs dished out just 20.8 assists an outing as a team as well, ranking 27th in that department. Dallas also finished ranked 23rd with an offensive rating of 103.7. But after adding the first player to lead the ACC among freshmen in points and assists since Ed Cota during the ’96-97 season, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle expects the offense to immediately open up with the integration of Smith. And with proven veterans around the young lead guard, Carlisle expects Smith to thrive during his rookie campaign.

“Well, having a dynamic point guard that can get places, that can attack space, create help and kick to guys like Dirk, like Wes (Matthews) and like Barnes, guys that can shoot the ball, and be able to hit guys like Nerlens (Noel) on rolls can really be a game-changer,” Carlisle explained.

“Look, we’ve had good point guards here for a long time,” he added. “Jason Kidd is one of the best in franchise history, but he’s a different kind of player than Dennis. You know, Dennis has got some gears that we just haven’t seen in a point guard in this organization since I’ve been here and maybe ever, so that’s exciting. I believe he has the ability to make the game easier for others. You know, people are going to be coming at him hard as a rookie and as a guy that’s coming in with some accolades, some hype and things like that, and I think he understands it. I think he’s looking forward to that.”

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.”

Yogi Ferrell says his rookie season with Mavs was filled with learning experiences

2016-17 Exit Interview: Yogi Ferrell

Mavs G Yogi Ferrell addresses the media for exit interviews.

DALLAS — After going from an undrafted free agent to being waived to signing a 10-day contract with a new team and eventually garnering Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors all within his first NBA season, point guard Yogi Ferrell admits that his first-year journey certainly wasn’t conventional.

Going untaken in last June’s draft and signing as a free agent with the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 9, Ferrell saw action in 10 games and averaged 5.4 points, 1.7 assists and 1.2 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per contest before being waived on Dec. 8. He then quickly found himself starring in the NBA Development League for 18 games with the Long Island Nets, averaging 18.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 35.7 minutes per outing to earn D-League All-Star honors. He was called up by the Dallas Mavericks’ front office with another opportunity to make his mark in the NBA from there. But despite eventually inking a multi-year contract with the Mavericks during a stellar rookie season, Ferrell says he still has something to prove to himself and his naysayers. 

“It’s been a whirlwind, man. It’s been a crazy past year for me in my first professional season, and I just stuck with it,” Ferrell confessed. “It was a lot of hard work. I just waited till my name was called for my next opportunity, and I just tried to make the most of it.

“I learned about myself to never doubt myself and my ability. I just feel like I maybe had some doubt after I got waived by Brooklyn, and I didn’t get picked up after a workout I had with an NBA team in the middle of the season. But I never doubted my ability. I stuck to what I was doing and what has gotten me to this point. I mean, honestly, I never had any doubt. And even when I was in the D-League and Brooklyn, I was still working hard and just waiting on my next turn. That was it.”

The 23-year-old Ferrell signed a 10-day contract with the Mavericks on Jan. 28, and he immediately stepped into the starting lineup to help the team combat injuries in the backcourt. But after he led the Mavs to a four-game winning streak in his first four outings with the team, Ferrell admittedly suffered through growing pains throughout his rookie season that he says will prove to be beneficial for years to come.

Ferrell took full advantage of his opportunity once he got it with the Mavericks, helping the team sweep a pivotal back-to-back in San Antonio and at home against the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers the following night in his first two games. After the Mavs’ dominant 113-95 win at home over Philadelphia on Feb. 1, Ferrell then scored a career-high 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting and 9 of 11 from three-point range during a 108-104 win in Portland two nights later. In the process, he tied the league’s rookie record for three-pointers in a single game that was originally set by ex-Mav Roddy Beaubois.

Ferrell’s 32 points were the most by an NBA player within his first 15 games since Blake Griffin scored 44 during his 14th career game back in 2010. Ferrell also became the first undrafted rookie in league history to score 30-plus points in a game in which he also led his team in assists after dishing out five during the win. He became just the third undrafted player in league history to score 30-plus points within his first 15 career NBA games as well, joining Connie Hawkins and Anthony Morrow. But after also joining All-Stars Stephen Curry, James Harden, Isaiah Thomas and Damian Lillard as one of only four players to hit nine three-pointers in a single game this season, Ferrell was more so proud of holding his own against former Finals MVP Tony Parker, All-Star guard Kyrie Irving and Lillard while leading his team to wins during three of his first four games.

“You know, I didn’t try to look at them as All-Star guys. Of course, I’m going to give them that respect off the court, because they’ve done great things. But on the court, you know, I’m just trying to do what they’ve done for many years, and trying to make a name for myself as well,” Ferrell explained.

He added: “I was just trying to take it in and just trying to do everything to try to keep my consistency up to par. I think I had some rough spots, but I think that’s just all a part of it. I just know one thing: I can never doubt myself and my ability. I just always have to stick with it.”

Named Western Conference Rookie of the Month for February to become the first Mav since Devin Harris to win the award since 2004, Ferrell averaged 12.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists while leading his team to a 6-5 record in 11 games. He then finished the season averaging 11.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 36 appearances for the Mavericks, making 29 starts during that span.

Ferrell also earned the trust of Mavs coach Rick Carlisle during his short time with the team. And after becoming an extension of the coach on the floor, Ferrell says he hopes to build on that trust next season.

“He’s demanding, but I feel like I like that, especially for myself, ’cause that just brings more out of myself and more for our team,” Ferrell said while highlighting his relationship with Carlisle. “I just try to do everything coach (Carlisle) wants and what he asks, ’cause he’s seen success. He’s developed great guards in J.J. (Barea) and Devin (Harris), and I’ve seen the success that they’ve had. So, I’m definitely going to just keep listening to him.

“[Carlisle] gave me a lot of confidence. Even when I first got here, I had a lot of confidence going in here by just doing what he wanted. I tried not to think too much, and I just went out there and played free willingly.”

Moved to the bench after receiving his Rookie of the Month award on March 23 in a 97-95 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers, Ferrell showed that he can continue to make an impact in a reserve role. The undersized lead guard also demonstrated that he could easily slide back into the starting lineup after seeing sharpshooter Seth Curry go down with a left shoulder injury that forced him out of the final seven games. And after averaging 11.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists during the month of April with Curry out, Ferrell hopes he showcased the skills that will make him the Mavs’ starting point guard going into next season.

“I feel like I am a starting point guard in this league, but I’m going to play whatever role coach (Carlisle) decides to put me in,” Ferrell proclaimed after the Mavs went 3-1 this season when he dished out at least seven assists. “I’m definitely just blessed to be here and glad to be here, and I definitely want to be here for a very long time.”