Early in the season, we took a look at the numbers for what many would consider a successful rookie year for Dennis Smith Jr. He was most frequently compared to players like Steve Francis and Russell Westbrook among others. Spoiler alert: Smith Jr. did enough in his first year to live up to those lofty expectations.
Here are the rookie season numbers for the All-Stars DSJ was compared to along with Smith Jr.’s stats:
|Dennis Smith Jr.||20||69||15.2||3.8||5.2||.395||.313||2.8|
On the surface, DSJ’s numbers don’t compare too favorably with the others. He played fewer games, and averaged fewer points, rebounds, and assists. His field goal percentage was the lowest of the bunch, and he didn’t get to the free throw line as often as the other players did.
However, he was only 0.1 points per game and 0.1 assists per game from matching Westbrook, while shooting at a much better clip from three. Taking a look at the number of minutes per game reveals that DSJ is at a disadvantage. Smith Jr. averaged only 29.7 minutes per game. Westbrook logged 32.5, Paul and Francis averaged about 36, and Rose played an incredible 37 minutes per game. In the one game he logged 40 minutes, Smith Jr. tallied 20 points, 11 assists, and 5 rebounds. If Smith Jr. played more minutes, he could have added a point, rebound, or assist to his averages.
Smith Jr. also had issues all year getting to the free-throw line despite consistently attacking the basket. Mavs fans are quick to point out that he suffered from being treated like a rookie by the refs, and it was clear that Smith Jr. was frustrated by the lack of calls. Next season will reveal whether or not his frustrations are justified.
A good first year does not guarantee success in the long run, just as a bad first year does not condemn a player to a terrible career. Case in point, here are Dirk Nowitzki’s stats from his first season:
Now that the Mavericks’ “rebuilding” season is over and they’re guaranteed a top-6 draft pick, fans have good reason to expect greater things from the young star in the making.
Follow Jeff Mapua on Twitter @JeffMapua.