This year with the #9 pick in the 2017 draft the Mavericks decided to go with Dennis Smith Jr., an athletic PG from North Carolina State. This is the highest pick that the Mavericks have ended up with since they drafted Dirk Nowitzki in the 1998 draft in a pick they got through a draft night trade.
Smith is now the post-Dirk face of the franchise as the Mavericks try to build around a young core of Smith, Harrison Barnes, Nerlens Noel, Seth Curry, and Yogi Ferrell.
Going into his senior year of high school, Smith was the #1 recruit in the country. He then suffered an injury (torn ACL) that would be career altering for the average player. This led to him having to sit out for almost his entire senior year. During his rehab process, Smith picked hometown North Carolina State as a college choice despite offers from college basketball powerhouses like North Carolina and Duke.
Initially his decision was harshly criticized because of the opportunity he had to join these elite college teams that he decided to pass up to join a team that he had a previous connection to. However his choice to do this is now what a lot of other top prospects have done i.e. Ben Simmons-LSU, Markelle Fultz-Washington, and Michael Porter Jr.-Missouri.
Once Smith arrived on campus in Raleigh he put up staggering numbers. Smith averaged 18.1 points, 6.2 assists and nearly two steals a contest. Despite this 5-star recruit carrying NCST the team never managed to figure out how to win together and they ended up finishing with a poor 15-17 record in an extremely tough ACC conference. Even with all of their ups and downs the team still managed to have some impressive performances including an upset win at Cameron Indoor versus Duke (Smith had a monster performance this game with 32 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals).
After North Carolina State’s tumultuous season, Smith was still considered a very high prospect for the next level. He announced his decision in a unique way by saying it live on SportsCenter. The North Carolina State star joined an elite point guard draft class including Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, and Frank Ntilikina.
Before the draft Smith was seen going as high as the #3 pick, so as MFFL’S we should be extremely fortunate that Smith fell to #9. Smith needs to work on becoming a knock down shooter, but he has loads of potential and is the next face of our franchise. A true do it all point guard who can be the next superstar that us MFFL’s need. Dennis Smith Jr. is the future of the Mavericks.