The athleticism of Dennis Smith Jr. is not just something Dallas Mavericks fans have never seen before, there may not be a fair comparison for him in NBA history.
The reality is starting to settle in that Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard, Dennis Smith Jr., is a different type and level of talent than we have ever seen in a Mavs uniform. And, truth be told, this could go beyond the Mavericks and well into the history of the entire NBA. His athleticism is unparalleled to anything I have ever seen with my own eyes.
Although he has not had a chance to display his talents fully for the NBA yet, there is no doubt in my mind that he will turn heads all across the world. There will be player comparisons made all the time where people oversell or undersell, but here are a few criteria that stick out to me as reasons he really is something we have never seen before.
Here are those aforementioned criteria.
I know it hasn’t been verified yet but a 48″ vertical is almost literally unheard of. There are two other players in the history of the NBA that also reportedly had a 48″ vertical jump but no one has ever been recorded to jump higher in the history of the NBA. Despite it not being confirmed as of yet, it cannot be overstated that Dennis Smith Jr. joins the company of Wilt Chamberlain and Darrell Griffith with the highest NBA vertical ever.
If you want to delve into it a little deeper, the highest vertical on record from a current NBA player is 46″ from Zach LaVine. As the reigning dunk contest champion and one of the most electrifying dunkers the game has ever seen. His vertical jump joins that of Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson, Spud Webb, and James White. Three of those players are well known dunk champions.
If the 48″ vertical can be verified at some point, just know that it is the highest vertical seen in the NBA since Dr. Dunkenstein (Griffith) showed it off in the 80’s.
Obviously there are some great names on that list above, but most of them are known sheerly for their dunking abilities. This isn’t DSJ’s only calling card, however, as he is actually an above average finisher at the rim without having to rock it. Taking a page out of pre-knee Derrick Rose’s book, Junior is a very creative scorer around the rim.
With that ability that he has shown, it is clear that Dennis is a versatile scorer, something where players with his level of athleticism is not common. His ball control and ball-handling skills both help significantly in this area, but the way he seems to have a knack of knowing exactly where he is on the court no matter what is a big deal. That is something that really cannot be taught.
Either way, his finishing ability is impressive and will be on full display for the Mavericks this season.
Have I mentioned that Dennis Smith Jr. is a versatile scorer yet? Junior is a great dunker and an excellent finisher, but what really sets him apart is his ability to hit shots from outside of the key at a respective percentage. The shot translation from college to NBA will have no affect on his game as he is ready to go right now.
Although shooting should not be considered his strongest suit, there is no denying that we saw his shooting on display during the summer league. Mid-range, long-range, off the pass, off the dribble, he really scored in every way possible. This will go a long way in realizing that Junior is an ultimate offensive weapon.
One of the things that has really stuck out to me about DSJ is that he has his head screwed on right. He was clearly raised in a good family that helped him become an adult at an earlier age. Unlike many of the guys that come through the NBA that want to party and forget about everything else, Junior is here with maturity and with a chip on his shoulder.
I would expect him to be very coachable and easy to be around. These things may seem small but in the basketball world, the Dallas Mavericks are all too familiar with guys who put basketball towards the bottom of their to-do list. That is not going to happen with Junior and the Mavs are going to have a real adult leading the team, even at 19 years old.
There are a lot of things to love about this kid, but it really is striking to see just how much he brings to the table. In my eyes, there has never been a player who showed up with all these particular skills and for that reason it is incredibly difficult to underestimate what he is capable of. Obviously there are other players who showed up with more hype. Junior is just unique.