Dallas Mavericks: Examining the driving skills of Dennis Smith Jr.

Dallas Mavericks Dennis Smith Jr. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks Dennis Smith Jr. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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Dallas Mavericks
Dallas Mavericks Dennis Smith Jr. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. drives the basketball a ton, but let us examine his numbers to see the improvements.

Drives are an important part of the basketball game of Dallas Mavericks second-year player Dennis Smith Jr. In his rookie season, DSJ did 12.7 drives per game, according to NBA Stats. Only four rookies ever made more drives per game (Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Elfrid Payton, Michael Carter-Williams). Among all NBA players, it was the tenth most last season.

It is not working out so far. Among 103 players who played at least 41 games and made at least five drives per game last season, Dennis Smith Jr. ranked 96th in field goal percentage (40.3 percent), 85th in points percentage (39.7), 42nd in assist percentage (10.9), 71st in turnover percentage (6.8).

Improvements coming?

Mavericks fans should not panic. There are reasons to expect DSJ to improve his numbers. First, youth is on his side. Last season was his NBA debut, so it’s not surprising that some things turned out worse than in the NCAA. With every NBA game and training under the guidance of Coach Carlisle, he is gaining invaluable experience and knowledge.

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This is confirmed by the stats. After introducing tracking in the 2013-2014 season, 13 players had at least 41 games and five drives per game in their first two seasons. Their numbers on drives improve in the second season in every case.

They have become more and more accurate (field goal attempts rose from 3.08 to 3.81 and field goal percentage is up from 41.86 to 43.38). As a result, they began to gain almost 0.9 points per game over their rookie season.

Changes in other indicators are not so noticeable (within +/- 10 percent). Yes, in many ways, the increase in performance is due to the uptick in the attempts to drives.

In the case of Dennis Smith Jr, it may not work. But, for example, field goal percentage of the number of attempts is independent, and its growth of 3.62 percent is simply due to the fact that the player has become more experienced.