Dennis Smith Jr. Wanted the Challenge of Guarding John Wall

Dallas Mavericks Dennis Smith Jr. Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks Dennis Smith Jr. Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

For Dennis Smith Jr., going head-to-head with the best in the league is something that he wants and desires.

On Monday, January 22nd, the Washington Wizards will make their way to Dallas to face a 15-31 Mavericks team.

As Washington sits with a 26-20 record as the 5th seed in the East, John Wall and Bradley Beal have each made their case for an All-Star appearance next month. With a trip to Dallas on Monday, they look to win their second game in a row against a struggling Mavs team.

Wall might expect to have Wesley Matthews checking him come Monday, but if Dennis Smith Jr. has anything to say about it, it will be him going up against Wall on Monday.

Back on January 13th, Rick Carlisle was asked if Dennis Smith Jr. has extra motivation going against teams that passed him up in the draft or matching up against Lonzo Ball. Carlisle responded by talking about the competitor that Smith Jr. is.

“He is a very serious competitor regardless. Virtually every night he is squaring off against a great point guard in this league,” Carlisle said.

Smith Jr. has played in 38 games this season where he has faced the likes of Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, and many more elite point guards.

In Washington, on November 7th, Smith Jr. wanted the challenge of John Wall.

“I remember in Washington we were playing. He and Ferrell were starting that particular night. We were going to put Ferrell on John Wall and put him on one of their other guys,” Carlisle said. “He really insisted on guarding Wall. He watched Wall growing up and is a guy who he patterns a lot of his game after. He just wanted the challenge of playing against him. Those kinds of things are great signs.”

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Smith Jr., a rookie, wanted the head-to-head matchup with John Wall.

That night, Smith Jr. put up 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists in the 14 point win over the Wizards. As for John Wall, he finished with 23 points and 14 assists in the loss.

As Carlisle said, this is a great sign for your rookie point guard. On top of that, defense isn’t the first thing you think about when it comes to Smith Jr. as his athleticism, dunking and scoring ability is what stands out naturally.

As a then 19-year-old, to want that challenge of guarding one of the best point guards in the league, that is special.

You can teach technique, skill and craft, but you can’t teach that type of mental approach to the game and Dennis Smith Jr. already had it…at 19 years old.

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Catch John Wall and the Wizards as they come to town on Monday for their second matchup with Dennis Smith Jr. and the Dallas Mavericks.