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. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) /

Breaking it down by games

Obviously, the performance will vary greatly from game to game. Here is a look at how the games for Dennis Smith Jr. were shaping up, regarding his drives. To do this, there are four indicators (FG%, PTS%, AST%, TOV%) plus the number of points per game and divided all games into four categories: excellent, good, bad, poor (Notes and data in Google Sheets).

Here’s the chart for this impromptu race.

At the end of the season, Dennis Smith Jr. has two of the three matches of the “excellent” category. He also has many games of the “good” category with only one contest in the “bad” category.

It should be noted that as the year wrapped up, he has three of eight games in the category of “poor”, so we can say that Smith was hot and cold on drives.

Examining the tape on DSJ

Now let’s move from numbers to video and visually assess the skills of Dennis Smith in the drives. In the video of Smith’s drives, there are some noticeable positive and negative points.

Dennis Smith Jr. has a good first step and dribbling that allow him to break away from his opponent, especially when against big. Here is an example where he draws a foul against the Hornets from Jan. 10, 2018.


DSJ uses his exception speed to get separation from the opponent and drive for a layup or dunk. In the March 24 game against the Hornets, he produced this play.


Also, Dennis Smith Jr. passes well on his drives. He is a skilled drive-and-kick player and if Dallas Mavericks had better shooters, Smith could have had more assists.

DSJ needs to work on his alley-oop passing. J.J. Barea has the skill down, but Dennis sometimes forces you to catch and then slam, resulting in missed time.

Here is an example for the New Year’s Eve game last season against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Smith Jr. drives-and-kicks to a wide Harrison Barnes for a corner three.


From the negative, it is worth noting that DSJ struggled shooting the ball. If the driving ends with a pull-up jump shot or floater, most likely it is a miss. Also, he should work on shooting through contact, because any bump greatly reduces the probability of an accurate shot.

Here is a play from March 17 against the Nets that displays his shot.


It is difficult to give a comprehensive assessment of Dennis Smith Jr’s ability to drive the basketball. There are positives and negatives from both sides.

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Do not count him out yet, though. DSJ has youth and a coaching genius in Rick Carlisle to give fans hope that his driving will become a formidable weapon in the attacking arsenal of Dallas Mavericks.