Undrafted rookie, Dorian Finney-Smith, found himself as the unlikely hero on Sunday night in the Dallas Mavericks’ first win, but is it just the beginning?
Going into Sunday nights matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Dallas Mavericks were 0-5 on the season looking for some type of winning formula.
With Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, and Devin Harris out due to injuries, this enabled the Mavs to hand out minutes to players that normally wouldn’t touch the rotation. With Rick Carlisle telling the rookies to be ready prior to the game, it was Finney-Smith that took advantage of the opportunity given to him.
Finney-Smith checked into the game and instantly the Mavs felt his presence on the defensive end of the floor. With the Bucks known for their length and athleticism, Finney-Smith helped counter that as he took on Antetokounmpo and Parker.
“He is an excellent defender. He was plus 19 when he was on the floor. It’s not a coincidence the game changed on some level when he was out there,” Carlisle said after the game.
“We couldn’t have won the game without him” -Rick Carlisle on Finney-Smith
Finney-Smith virtually unseated Justin Anderson completely in the game as he finished the game logging 32 minutes compared to Anderson’s 10. In those 32 minutes, Finney-Smith finished with five points, three steals, three rebounds, and one block.
“He’s an NBA defender. Thats the reason we gave him a significant guarantee and thats the reason he made the roster. He’s worked on his three-point game…he’s earn himself some minutes here. I’m happy for him, frankly, we couldn’t have won the game without him,” Carlisle said when talking about Finney-Smith’s impact on the game.
With the game tied at the end of the fourth quarter, Jason Kidd put the ball in The Greek Freak’s hands in an isolation play at the top of the key. With the game on the line, it was Finney-Smith that was guarding him. Finney-Smith got his hand in his face and the game went into overtime.
“It felt good to know that he trusts me enough to play me down the stretch. To get stops. That’s what I like to do, I like to play defense and he put me in when it mattered. Just feel like he got a little trust in me after tonight,” Finney-Smith said after his career game.
At the post game press conference, Carlisle told the media that they normally don’t do it, but they gave out a game ball and that it went to Finney-Smith.
Harrison Barnes might have finished with a career high 34 points, but he spent some of the time at his locker after the game sharing his thoughts on the young Finney-Smith.
“He just stepped up with no fear. That’s impressive. To get those stops and to play down the stretch. That speaks volume that coach left him in to make those plays,” Barnes said.
For a coach that normally doesn’t put his trust in his young guns, it was shocking to see Finney-Smith logging those heavy minutes on Sunday night. If Finney-Smith can continue to work on his outside shot, the future is bright for the young fella.
"“He doesn’t know how good he can be in this league…if you boot an NBA player, you would give him that body. He’s long, athletic, lean, and can get up and down the floor,” Andrew Bogut says post game."
This is high praise coming from the Australian. It wasn’t just the coaching staff that recognized the impact Finney-Smith had on the game, but his fellow teammates also.
The Mavs rotation seems wide open at this point as Dallas tries to find some sort of winning formula to get them back on track and competing in the Western Conference.
Dorian Finney-Smith has the NBA body and now a little trust from his head coach. Now the former Florida Gator has to stick to what got him here and prove that he is worthy of a consistent rotation spot.