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.”

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.”