In a loaded draft class with plenty of high-profile players, Dennis Smith Jr. believes that the Rookie of the Year award is a reasonable goal.
The Dallas Mavericks decided to stand pat in the 2017 NBA Draft as they waited for who would drop to them at the ninth spot.
After Frank Ntilikina came off the board to New York at eight, the Mavericks erupted in joy as they got the guy they wanted all along in Dennis Smith Jr..Now, Dallas finally has their point guard of the future.
On Friday afternoon, the Dallas Mavericks had their introductory press conference where Donnie Nelson, Mark Cuban, Rick Carlisle, and Dennis Smith Jr. addressed the media for the first time together.
As he took questions about his character, work ethic, team fit and more, I took the opportunity to ask him about a highly touted goal for his rookie season.
I asked Smith Jr., “Is the Rookie of the Year award a reasonable goal for you this year?”
Smith Jr. didn’t hesitate with his response.
"“I believe so,” Smith Jr said. “I believe it is very obtainable. It is the same guys I competed with in high school. Those are the highly touted rookies in this class. I have a lot of faith in my abilities and I’m a diligent worker. So I believe I can get that award.”"
When looking back at the past award winners, there are a couple of things they usually have in common with each other in their first season: high minutes and high scoring averages.
Not including this past weird rookie season, the last award winner was Karl Anthony Towns where he averaged over 18 points and 10 rebounds a game in 34 minutes a game.
In 2015, it was his Minnesota teammate, Andrew Wiggins, that averaged 17 points on 36 minutes a game.
For Dennis Smith Jr., he is going to get every opportunity to put up those type of numbers in year one of his NBA career.
“I would project him as a starter, but he will have to earn it,” Rick Carlisle said when he addressed the media right after the Mavericks made their pick.
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Smith Jr. will step in on day one to run the show in Dallas with his elite athleticism and tenacity attacking the paint. Logging over 30 minutes a night and averaging over 16 points a game is something very doable for Smith Jr. in his rookie year.
When looking across the league at his competition, it obviously starts at the top.
Will Markelle Fultz put up the statistics with Ben Simmons running the show and Joel Embiid down low? Will Lonzo Ball score enough points to win the award as a rookie?
Jayson Tatum and Josh Jackson have other superior talent around them while Jonathan Isaac and Frank Ntilikina will take time to develop.
The real competition to Dennis Smith Jr. could be De’Aaron Fox in Sacramento. Fox will be given the reigns on day one and doesn’t have a ton of talent around him to take away from his statistics. Either way, I would be surprised if a non-point guard won the award this coming season.
Smith Jr. will get the minutes, shots and opportunity to win the award and he believes it is very obtainable for him this coming season.