The Dallas Mavericks took a massive leap on the defensive end of the floor under first-year head coach Jason Kidd. They were 21st in defensive rating in 2021 before finishing seventh this season with largely the same personnel. Kidd brought in a new scheme and got full player buy-in on their way to reaching the Western Conference Finals.
The incredible play of Luka Doncic overshadowed the team’s defensive improvements. Dallas had the second-best record in the league from Jan. 1 to the end of the regular season and won their first playoff series since 2011. Doncic was the center of the offense, and his buy-in on the defensive end made their improvements possible, but Dorian Finney-Smith was a catalyst of their gains.
The always underrated Doe-Doe took on the opposition’s top scorer every night and found a way to slow him down. Finney-Smith was one of the league’s best perimeter defenders this season, but he got no love from the voters for the All-Defensive teams.
Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith deserved to be on All-Defensive team
Finney-Smith received just seven second-team votes to finish seventh among forwards with only four selected for the honors. He finished below rookies Evan Mobley and Herb Jones in the balloting with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jaren Jackson Jr., Draymond Green, and Bam Adebayo making the first and second teams. It was a crowded vote among the forwards, but Finney-Smith deserved a place.
The Mavericks wing is the lockdown option casual fans have never heard about. During the regular season, Doe-Doe held Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Ja Morant, Paul George, Donovan Mitchell, and Brandon Ingram under 40 percent shooting when he was matched against them with a minimum of 14 field-goal attempts per NBA Stats. In the playoffs, Mitchell shot 32.7 percent on 52 attempts over the six-game series with Finney-Smith guarding him, and Booker was 15 of 33 from the field.
Doe-Doe is no stranger to slowing down All-Stars. He does it on a nightly basis, and never receives the credit he deserves.
The position designations hurt the NBA in All-Defensive voting. Bam Adebayo had to slide down to forward, which created a logjam. Matisse Thybulle earned second-team honors at guard, despite playing just 1,658 total minutes this season. He is a fantastic defender, but Finney-Smith spent 1,000 more minutes on the floor guarding the opposition’s best scorer every second.
Dorian Finney-Smith may never receive the love he deserves. He just signed a four-year extension with the Dallas Mavericks in February and has already proved to be underpaid in his new deal on this playoff run. Doe-Doe deserves to make the All-Defensive team, and hopefully, the honor comes in 2023.