Dallas Mavericks: Dennis Smith Jr. needs to be more decisive

Dallas Mavericks Dennis Smith Jr. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks Dennis Smith Jr. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images) /

Through two games, Dennis Smith Jr. is already impressing Dallas Mavericks fans, but a more confident approach could lead to greater success.

The Dallas Mavericks scored 140 points in Saturday’s game win over Minnesota, and it was exciting. Luka Doncic proved why he was the third pick in the draft. DeAndre Jordan lived above the rim. But most importantly, Dennis Smith Jr. hit the game-winning shot with just a few seconds left in the game. It showed that Smith has the ability and confidence to make winning plays. Fans can see the shot below courtesy of the Mavs official Twitter account.

Too indecisive so far

The problem is Smith often hesitates to make these plays. Too many times he over-dribbles on the perimeter, or simply holds the ball for a few seconds before passing it on to a nearby teammate.

It’s possible there’s a lack of familiarity with his teammates. With so many new faces on the Mavericks this season, it’s possible Smith isn’t sure who is going to be in the right place at the right time. Whatever the reason, Smith just isn’t being decisive with the basketball so far this year.

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There are very few defenders in the NBA who can stay in front of Smith. When he receives a pass and immediately drives to the basket, the defense doesn’t have time to set or rotate to help defend the rim. This allows him to score or make the pass to an open man. But when he hesitates, even for a few moments, it allows help defense to shift and contest at the rim. It’s only a beat or two, but it matters.

The same can be said for his 3-point shooting. There have been a few times when Smith has caught a pass behind the arc with a little space and hesitated to shoot.

Dennis Smith Jr. only shot 31 percent from deep last season, so he might be a little shy with his shot. First, I believe he’s worked on his shot over the summer. Second, he seems more comfortable on catch-and-shoot attempts. Finally, sometimes it’s important that a defense knows you’ll take the 3-point shot. Smith isn’t a terrible 3-point shooter. 31 percent from behind the arc is a little below average. He’s got to let it fly sometimes.

Attack more

Simply put, once Smith gets the ball, he needs to immediately drive, pass, or shoot. It sounds simple, but so far he’s held the ball too much. Smith doesn’t have the game right now to isolate a defender and break them down with the dribble. That will come with time.

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Right now, he needs to take advantage of his elite athleticism, ability to get to the rim, and blossoming 3-point shot. It’ll make him, and the Dallas Mavericks, much more successful.