The Dallas Mavericks got their guy on draft night by watching Dennis Smith Jr. fall to their laps at the 9th spot in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Sitting a short distance away from the Maverick’s war room, the media sat around their computers anxiously watching the draft as the first few picks in the draft were underway.
With Jonathan Isaac coming off the board to Orlando, news slowly started to circulate the media room that Chicago had traded up with Minnesota for the 7th pick in the draft.
With that pick, Chicago selected big man Lauri Markkanen.
This was exactly what the Mavericks were hoping for as now two guards would be available for them when they picked at nine. After New York selected Frank Ntilikina with the 8th overall pick, Dallas knew they got their guy with the 9th pick.
With the 9th pick, the Dallas Mavericks selected Dennis Smith Jr.
"“This is a huge day for us,” Rick Carlisle said as he addressed the media shortly after selecting Smith Jr."
For the Mavericks, it was simply sitting there at nine and waiting to see who would drop to them. They never thought they would have a chance to draft Smith Jr. and it reflected in their pre-draft workouts.
Carlisle talked about how Dallas never had Smith in for a workout because they simply never thought he would be available for them at nine. It wasn’t until Dallas sent a few people to a workout of Smith’s on the East coast that they came away impressed.
“There was an uproarious applause” -Carlisle on Smith Jr. being available at nine
A few days after that, Carlisle said that himself, Nelson and Michael Finley video chatted over the phone with Smith where they expressed their desire to select him if he was still on the board.
Speaking of board, when New York was on the clock and announced their pick of Frank Ntilikina, Carlisle acknowledged the celebration that took place in the war room.
“There was an uproarious applause in there, it was thunderous,” Carlisle said about the reaction in the war room.
When Donnie Nelson was asked about the reaction in the war room of Smith being available for them to select, he noted “a lot of chest bumping and high fiving.” He also joked about having the highest chest bump of his life when celebrating with Dirk.
As far as the talent of Smith Jr., it was consistent across the board that Dallas had him as “one of the four” in regards to the top four point guard prospects in the draft.
"“I thought he was as good as any of them,” Carlisle said in regards to Smith stacking up to the likes of Fultz, Ball and Fox."
For the city of Dallas, he is going to bring confidence and flare to the back court that we simply haven’t seen before at the point guard spot.
Smith Jr. is known for his athleticism and when he gets the ball on the break this fall, fans will join in with Finley in enjoying whatever dunk he throws down. When asked about if the high school ACL injury affects Smith Jr. now, Nelson had a clever remark in response.
“He would have a 50 inch vertical instead of a 48 one,” Nelson said.
Yes, Smith Jr. is on the record of having a 48 inch vertical.
There was some speculation of Dallas trying to move up and other teams trying to move down, but according to Donnie Nelson, Smith Jr. was their guy either way.
“This is the guy we were after. If we were to draft higher, he is who we had circled.”
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Rick Carlisle even mentioned an acronym that they used in the war room about Smith that read “OKG: Our Kinda Guy”. He was their (realistic) dream and they got it.
As far as his role coming into Dallas, Carlisle surprised me some by saying he should be the starter on day one.
“I would project him as a starter but he will have to earn it,” Carlisle said.
When Dallas phoned Smith Jr. in via speakerphone to talk to us media, you could hear the fire in Smith’s voice as he is anxious to get on the court and prove people wrong. With the three point guards selected ahead of him in the draft, it only added fuel to the fire of motivation.
“Definitely motivated by it…fuel to the fire,” Smith Jr. said to the media when asked about the added motivation of where he was selected.
Bottom line, Michael Finley said it the best on Thursday night.
“The guy we really wanted…we got.”
The Dallas Mavericks hit a home run on Thursday night, now we wait to see if it was a grand slam.