The Dallas Mavericks addressed their backcourt need with the No. 9 overall pick in the draft, taking North Carolina State point guard Dennis Smith, Jr.
Smith, who averaged 18.1 points, 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds in 32 games in his only season at N.C. State, joins point guards Devin Harris, Seth Curry, J.J. Barea and Yogi Ferrell, who are all under contract for 2017-18.
The scouting report on Smith, via The Associated Press:
Smith filled his one season at North Carolina State with some impressive accomplishments. He was named ACC rookie of the year, and a second team all-conference selection after averaging 18.1 points, a league-best 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds.
The explosive guard was one of two players in Division I to record two triple-doubles, and joined Ralph Sampson as the only ACC freshmen with that achievement. All of that came in Smith's first full season back from a major knee injury suffered shortly before his senior year of high school, an injury that led him to enroll a semester early in January 2016 to focus on his rehab before making his playing debut that November.
Already a very highly regarded prospect, Smith's 32-point performance in the Wolfpack's first win at Duke since 1995 on Jan. 23 pushed his status into the elite ranks. Besides triple-doubles against Virginia Tech and Syracuse, Smith's 16 assists against Rider on Dec. 28 were tied for the most in any Division I game this past season. Smith's season wasn't without its disappointments, however, as the Wolfpack finished 15-17 after an 11-2 start and lost five games by at least 24 points.
While Smith may have lost some national recognition because of his team's struggles, he was on the radar of NBA scouts even before college because his explosiveness and superior athletic gifts seem perfectly suited for the NBA. A fearless slasher, Smith is also a skilled passer with an improving shot and his ability to finish above the rim is a trait that all elite point guards possess. Smith projects as a player that can start and contribute immediately, and he brings as much long-term potential as any player in this class.
At No. 9, Smith marks the Mavs’ highest draft selection in over a decade and just their second top-10 pick in 20 years.
The Mavs can hope the selection of Smith changes the tune of their draft history. The front office has floundered on draft night almost every year since Dirk Nowitzki became a Maverick via trade in the 1998 draft.
In fact, only two of the Mavericks’ draft picks since 2000 are still in the NBA: Devin Harris and Jae Crowder.
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