Dennis Smith Jr. Says Johnathan Motley “Could Be Phenomenal”

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 29: Dennis Smith Jr.
DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 29: Dennis Smith Jr. /

Dennis Smith Jr. talks about playing with Johnathan Motley for the first time this regular season and how good Motley can be in the league.

For the first time in a NBA regular season game, the two rookie studs (not including the undrafted Maxi Kleber) took the court together for a couple of minutes as Dennis Smith Jr. and Johnathan Motley finally got to play together.

Smith Jr. was the talk on draft night as the Dallas Mavericks selected him with the ninth overall pick in the draft. He was named the starting point guard on draft night and was coined as the next face of the franchise in just a short amount of time.

For Motley, things were a little different.

Considered a first round pick by some, Motley found himself going undrafted on draft night due to an injury back at Baylor and was considered a steal by the Mavericks when Dallas signed the 6’11” big man to a two-wy contract.

While Smith Jr. has been going up against some of the best point guards in the NBA, Motley has spent most of the season in the G-League where he has been nothing short of a monster for the Texas Legends.

MISSISSAUGA, ON, CANADA – JANUARY 10: Johnathan Motley /

In 23 games, Motley has averaged over 21 points and 10 rebounds a game. It was just last week that Motley put on another show in the G-League by logging 27 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks.

While Motley hasn’t been with the Mavs much this season, it hasn’t kept Smith Jr. from keeping up with the big man in the G-League.

This was a tweet last week showing love to one of Motley’s big games.

After Motley made the First Team All-G-League Showcase Team, Smith Jr. showed some more love over social media.

Back in December, it looks as if Smith Jr. had formed a close bond with Antonius Cleveland (who has since been waived) and Johnathan Motley (who was sent back to the G-League at the time).

Coming in as the same draft class into Dallas, Smith Jr. and Motley started their bond early, but had to wait 47 games into the season before hitting the court together in a NBA regular season game.

“I love it,” Smith Jr. said when I asked him about playing with Motley after the loss to the Rockets.

On Wednesday night in Dallas, the Mavericks lost 97-104 to the Houston Rockets. Motley found himself checking into the game at the end where he would log just two minutes. In those two minutes, Motley recorded five points and three rebounds with a +9 plus/minus.

“I was super excited man. I couldn’t wait to get out there with him,” Smith Jr. said. “I found him as many times as I could. He did what he did and scored the ball.”

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With Dirk Nowitzki moved to the starting center spot full-time and guys like Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber and Salah Mejri entrenched into the rotation, it has been hard for the Mavericks to find time for their young stud in Motley.

As far as his potential in the league, Smith Jr. had high praise for his friend.

“I think he could be phenomenal in the league. He is a five man that can knock down the jump shot and score down low. He has a high I.Q. and super athletic. I think he can be a really good player in the NBA,” Smith Jr. said.

On if Motley could help the team right now, “I believe so. He is good enough and has the talent level to do so,” Smith Jr. said.

It was a frustrating night all around for Smith Jr. on Wednesday as he didn’t have his best of games and the Mavericks walked away with another loss. But something that did bring a small grin to Smith Jr.’s face after the game was talking about playing alongside of Motley.

Next: Johnathan Motley vs. Salah Mejri

It is unsure when or how much time we might see Motley in a Mavericks uniform, but if it was up to Dennis Smith Jr., I think we would be seeing his friend alongside of him a lot more.