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Dennis Smith Jr. Shines in Second Win in Vegas

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 22: Dennis Smith Jr. walks to the stage after being drafted ninth overall by the Dallas Mavericks during the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 22, 2017 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 22: Dennis Smith Jr. walks to the stage after being drafted ninth overall by the Dallas Mavericks during the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 22, 2017 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Behind Dennis Smith Jr., the Dallas Mavericks improved to 2-0 in the Las Vegas Summer League.

The past couple seasons have been pretty rough on Mavs fans, but during this year’s NBA Summer League, the Mavericks have been flat-out dominant.

It may not be the “real” NBA, but it’s still a source of pride for Dallas. That dominance continued in Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns are another team in the midst of a rebuild with a lot of young, intriguing talent. Phoenix was headlined by the likes of Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, and Derrick Jones Jr. Meanwhile, the Mavs went with their starting lineup against the Bulls with Yogi and Junior in the backcourt and Finney-Smith, Brandon Ashley, and The Young Pope in the frontcourt.

The Mavericks started the game with hot shooting, particularly from Dennis Smith Jr. Both teams kept it pretty competitive during the first half and played smart basketball. Junior led the way with an efficient 12 points and the Mavericks entered the locker room at halftime with a 14-point lead. In the third quarter, both squads were a lot more sloppy with the ball, turning the ball over frequently. But the Mavs were able to maintain their lead and went into the fourth quarter with the score at 69-55.

The Mavs continued to keep the Suns at arm’s length in the last quarter. Despite a late-game comeback, the Mavericks easily dispatched this Phoenix team 77-88 to remain perfect in Las Vegas, thanks to 25 points from Dennis Smith Jr.

Acrobatic Finishes/Court Vision

Much has been made about the other-worldly athleticism of Dennis Smith Jr., and the his first two summer league games have provided a glimpse into his outstanding ability to finish through contact. In his first two games, there were a number of highlight layups from Junior, and he continues to show his fantastic body control in the air, That is a skill that will be immensely useful in the NBA, not just finishing shots, but drawing fouls on a regular basis.

Another skill that Dennis displayed is his court vision. He averaged 6.2 assists for NC State last year even though he had very few finishers surrounding him. But athleticism became his defining characteristic which may have blinded scouts to his other talents like his outstanding drive-and-kick game. Because of his quickness, Junior easily knifes into the lane, causing defenders to sag off on the perimeter. Smith Jr. is showing his ability to spot the open man whenever he drives toward the rim.

Mark Cuban touched on this when he was invited to talk with Mike Breen and Jay Bilas during the game. Cuban talked about the comparisons to Derrick Rose, even saying that Smith Jr. is superior because of his advanced passing acumen. If Dennis can develop his point guard abilities while scoring in bunches, then he might be a future MVP yet.

Poor Do-Do

Though less heralded than Yogi Ferrell, Dorian Finney-Smith was nevertheless an impressive undrafted find for the Mavericks last year. Doe-Doe, as the team affectionately calls him, earned heavy minutes during the early part of the season, mostly for his adept skill on defense. He wasn’t able to shoot the ball with much consistency, but endless injuries gave him the chance to start 35 games throughout the season.

Despite his steady defense, Finney-Smith ended the year shooting an ugly 37% from the floor and 29% from 3-point territory. He identified 3-point shooting as his main focus to work on during the offseason. However, based on his first two games in the Summer League, he might need to keep working on it. In the first match against the Bulls, Finney-Smith shot 1-8 from the floor while missing all four attempts from deep. He didn’t shoot much better against Suns, making only 1 out of 9 shots and bricking all five three-pointers.

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Do-Do always gives maximum energy and effort when he’s on the floor, whether that’s playing lockdown defense or wrangling in a tough rebound. Finney-Smith is top-notch competitor, but he needs to have at least a semi-reliable jump shot if he’s going to be on the floor, otherwise his defensive skill won’t outweigh his offensive deficiencies.

DING

The Mavericks sensation Ding Yanyuhang continued his inexplicable rise to fame with this Las Vegas crowd as they audibly rooted for him every time he touched the ball. I tell you folks, in all my months as a Mavericks writer, I have yet to see something quite like this. I simply cannot comprehend what all this fervor is about. Could it be the name? Are there a lot of Chinese Basketball Association fans in Las Vegas? We may never know.

Next: 3 Players the Mavs Should Have Called About

We here at The Smoking Cuban will continue to update you on the status of Ding-mania as it develops.

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