DALLAS — Perhaps the only person unimpressed with Dennis Smith Jr.’s first-quarter dunk against the Washington Wizards on Monday night was Smith himself.
“Nah, that wasn’t a good enough dunk for the dunk contest, honestly,” Smith said with a chuckle when I asked if that was an audition for the exhibition in February.
Smith has high standards for every part of his game, including his dunks. While his 360-slam wowed the fans at the American Airlines Center, it might not have ranked very high on Smith’s personal dunk list. However the jam was about the only eye-pleasing highlight in an ugly 98-75 win.
It was one of the ugliest games I’ve seen in sometime — the Wizards shot 30.6 percent from the field and were stuck at 55 points two minutes into the fourth quarter. No, not the third, the fourth. The Mavericks didn’t play particularly inspiring, but it was a damn masterpiece compared to the Wizards, who looked about as ass as a team has looked in some time.
So it was Smith’s dunk that drew by far the most buzz.
“I don’t know who’s doing the invitations to the dunk contest, but if they don’t invite him after tonight’s exhibition, somebody’s probably not doing their job very well,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the game with some extra joy in his voice. “In the dunk contest, he would be absolutely spectacular.”
It’s a damn revelation seeing a Mavericks point guard casually drop a dunk like that. Consider the last six Mavericks point guards, dating all the way back to the 2008 trade that brought in Jason Kidd:
- Deron Williams
- Rajon Rondo
- Jameer Nelson
- Jose Calderon
- Darren Collison
- Jason Kidd
That is a bunch of floor-bound dudes! While the rest of the league stocked up on super-powered point guards, the Mavericks just kept rolling out steely veterans. There’s nothing really wrong with that, especially since Kidd helped win a title. But damn, how refreshing is it to see a Mavericks guard that can do the things Smith can do? For a franchise that has been starved for young talent, Smith is like finding a water park in the Sahara desert.
So hooray for Smith, whose dunking in February would be a nice distraction from a toiling rebuild unfolding in Dallas. He already has 24 dunks this season, third-most on the team. The last Mavericks guard to have at least double-digit dunks in a season was Monta Ellis back in 2015 and Ellis had just 13. Most of Smith’s 24 dunks have been impressive in their violence and ferocity, but his 360 on Monday night was the first time he’s gotten fancy in-game. Smith definitely has more up his sleeve though, as he hinted post-game.
Please, let this 6’3 ball of thunder rock rims during All-Star weekend. He’s ready.
“I’d be willing to do it,” Smith said about a potential invite. “Something I’ve been watching my whole life. If I’m invited, I’m more than willing.”