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Quentin Batalillon

General News 2024

It’s time for the Mavs to bring Dennis Smith Jr. home

I know I’m not the first to suggest that the Mavericks reunite with former first-round draft pick Dennis Smith Jr., and I’m also not the first to report that the organization seems to be interested in doing so. I also know that I’m starting to get a little excited about the Mavericks rehabilitating the careers of former lottery point guards. And I know that by the time I type this, Nico Harrison will have signed someone else, and as long as that someone isn’t Pat Beverley, I’m going to have to shake my head and acknowledge that that was probably the smart move. Harrison is on a pretty good streak of smart decisions, so he deserves it.

That being said.

On the court, DSJ fits perfectly. I mean, ideally he’d be a better three-point shooter. But in the right formation, he doesn’t really need to be. He’s another ball handler and connector, and the offense is at its best when it has at least two of those players, if not three. Maybe Quentin Grimes can help with that. But they definitely need someone with Josh Green leaving for Charlotte, and while Smith isn’t the starting point guard they were hoping to draft, he’s a top-notch backup: a good and willing passer who’s a very solid finisher off the ball.

But really, he just has to be somewhat useful on that end of the court, because defense is where he really shines. If you haven’t been paying attention since Smith left Dallas, he’s now a lockdown defender, one of the best defensive guards in the entire league. Stats, eye test, however you want to judge it.

So far this offseason, the Mavericks have replaced Derrick Jones Jr., Tim Hardaway Jr. and Green with Grimes, Naji Marshall and Klay Thompson. On paper, it’s probably a close call, considering Hardaway has fallen out of the rotation and Thompson is a better shooter than all three, even if he were playing in a walking boot and jeans. The biggest question that remains is whether the bottom will fall out of the Mavs’ point-of-attack defense with Thompson and Grimes taking Jones’ minutes. DSJ would make sure that doesn’t happen.

In the locker room, it’s a cozy match again. Former coach Rick Carlisle did his best to convey the idea that the team wasn’t big enough for Smith and Luka Donicic, that Smith was to blame, that he was jealous. But nothing could be further from the truth. They were—and are—friends.

Not that the roster needed bolstering, based on the vibes. By the time the Mavs lost to the Celtics in the Finals, you’d be hard-pressed to find a tighter group of guys. A real family, and not in the sense of a company that says “we’re a family” so you can feel better about getting kicked in the pants. Kyrie Irving helped Thompson sell the Mavs on that idea.

They’re not starting over, but they are integrating a few new family members, which is never easy, even if one of them shares your disdain for Devin Booker. It doesn’t hurt to have another friendly face around. And it’s never a bad thing to surround your franchise player with more people he likes, especially if it makes the team stronger. I hate to use a technical term, but that’s something we call a “win-win” in the business.
Off the field? Well, we can finally get these two back together. And I’m sure the Pappadeaux at Oak Lawn miss him. Bring DSJ home. Jumbo crabs are on me.

Author

Zac Crain

Zac, Editor-in-Chief of D-magazinewrote about the explosion in West, Texas; legendary country singer Charley Pride; Tony…