If there's one thing Dennis Smith, Jr. wants Mavs fans to know, it's that he's a hard worker.
Addressing the local media for the first time after being taken No. 9 overall by the Mavericks in Thursday night's NBA Draft, Smith said the biggest misconception about him as a player is that he doesn't play hard.
"I believe that nobody at N.C. State believes that -- the fans, or the players and the staff," he said. "That's just something I'd like everybody to know. I'm going to come out here and give it my all and play as hard as I can."
N.C. State won just 15 games in Smith's only year with the Wolfpack, and, somewhere along the way, Smith's intangibles came into question for some. Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman had this to say of Smith ahead of the draft:
"Smith isn't to blame for North Carolina State's 15-17 record, but he didn't do the greatest job of selling himself as a future NBA leader. One executive questioned if he could lead, referring to him as 'quiet and moody.' Vulnerable to making the lazy play, taking the wild shot or getting caught flat-footed, Smith could stand to improve his overall concentration and decision-making. Still, he clearly knows the game."
WFAA Sports contributor Andrew Tobolowsky even said Smith tends to be lazy on the defensive side of the ball.
But Smith has his sights set on success in Dallas, not shying away from the hype and telling reporters Friday that the Rookie of the Year Award is "attainable." Why?
Because he has confidence in his ability, and because he's a "diligent worker," he said.
Let's be clear, though. Smith's ability is enough to make him a lottery pick in the draft -- in fact, Donnie Nelson told 105.3 The Fan's Ben Rogers Friday that Smith likely would have gone higher in the draft if it weren't for N.C. State's struggles or for Smith's knee injury a year ago.
Mavs Head Coach Rick Carlisle called Smith a "dynamic" point guard who will help the Mavs' offense tremendously with his knack for creating plays and ability to run the pick-and-roll.
"Dennis has gears like we haven't seen in a point guard (since I've been head coach) here," he said.
Watch the full introductory press conference with Smith, Carlisle, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson in the video player at the top of this story.
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