In a league that seems to get smaller and faster every season, it’s good business to have a surplus of midsized players.
The Mavericks have bought a lot of stock in that business.
Depending on how you classify Dorian Finney-Smith, the Mavericks have a solid six-pack of wing players. The number swells to seven if you include Finney-Smith, who is entering his sixth season and qualified as a jack-of-all-trades when Rick Carlisle was coach.
With Jason Kidd now calling the shots, things could change. But the bottom line is that Finney-Smith will figure out ways to contribute, no matter where he is on the court. He always does.
So including him in the group with Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock, Josh Green, Sterling Brown, Tyrell Terry and JaQuori McLaughlin would be prudent. Whether or not he’s guarding a guard or a power forward is irrelevant. Finney-Smith’s presence is a constant reminder of the position-less NBA, which no longer qualifies as a new concept.
What it means is there will be no shortage of options for Kidd when he mixes and matches lineups at the shooting guard/small forward and possibly even power forward positions.
It starts with Hardaway, who has become one of the most reliable 3-point shooters in the league.
How reliable? Only four players have made at least 200 3-pointers in each of the last two shortened seasons: Buddy Hield, Damian Lillard, Duncan Robinson and Hardaway.
He’s made 38.5 percent from the arc since he arrived in Dallas.
And he can hold his own defensively, too. Plus, he rarely misses games.
Those are just some of the reasons the Mavericks showered the 6-5 Hardaway with a new four-year contract in July.
So it’s a sure bet that you can pencil in Hardaway for 28 to 30 minutes per night.
Where do the other minutes go at small forward and shooting guard?
Much depends on the competition between Green, Bullock and Brown.
The Mavericks are hopeful that the second-year Green can take a significant step forward. The Australian had some meaningful moments in his rookie season. But they were infrequent.
Now, he could have a legit spot in the rotation.
But he’ll have to battle Bullock and Brown, both established veterans who are gifted at the defensive end of the floor and can shoot.
Green’s 4-of-25 3-point shooting as a rookie is clearly something that must improve.
So here’s the breakdown of the Mavericks’ wing candidates:
Tim Hardaway Jr: 6-5, entering ninth season; averaged 16.6 points, shot 39.1 percent from 3-point range. What to watch for: Hopefully, more of the same. Yes, it would be great if he could rebound a little more, but he knows what this team needs from him. He must take and make open looks from the perimeter.
Dorian Finney-Smith: 6-7, entering sixth season; averaged 9.8 points and shot 39.4 percent on 3-pointers. What to watch for: For all five years of his career, both his scoring average and 3-point percentage have increased. Now he’s not just a defensive whiz. He’s a 3-and-D guy. And as he comes up on his contract year, he should be primed for a big season.
Reggie Bullock: 6-6, entering ninth season; averaged 10.9 points and shot 41 percent from 3-point range with New York last season. What to look for: His game is strictly on the perimeter. In the past four seasons, he’s shot almost 1,200 3-pointers and less than 800 2-pointers. The Mavericks don’t want that – or his sticky defense – to change.
Sterling Brown: 6-5, entering fifth season; averaged 8.2 points and shot 42.3 percent from 3-point range with Houston last season. What to look for: He has loads of experience playing with a superstar (Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee, John Wall in Houston), so he should fit well with Luka Doncic.
Josh Green: 6-5, entering second season; averaged 2.6 points and shot 16 percent from 3-point range last season. What to look for: We will find out how much the Olympic experience with bronze-medal winning Australia helped Green. He flashed potential as a rookie. Now he must build on that.
Tyrell Terry: 6-2, entering second season; averaged 1 point in 11 games as a rookie. What to look for: His first NBA season was a goner as he took an extended leave from the team. After going through summer league, he should be ready to show what he can do as the deadeye shooter he was renowned for in his one season at Stanford.
JaQuori McLaughlin: 6-4, rookie; averaged 13.4 points and 4.1 assists at UC-Santa Barbara last season. What to look for: He turned heads in Las Vegas at the summer league with Golden State, earning himself a two-way contract with the Mavericks. He’s got good size and has intriguing potential as a combo guard.
Coming next: The big men