On the surface, there was very little for MFFLs to feel positive about from the Dallas Mavericks’ season opener in Phoenix Wednesday night. Anyone could come up with a list the length of a CVS receipt of things the Mavs did poorly or need to work on.
But if we all take a breath, and stop our eyes from bleeding, we can find a few bright spots. Wednesday night, Dorian Finney-Smith was one.
Let’s be clear, the Mavs desperately need Harrison Barnes back for several reasons. But in his absence, DFS carried over his positive preseason play and provided quality minutes against the Suns. In his 30 minutes, he put up 12 points, three rebounds, and three blocks while going 4-of-7 from the floor and shooting 40 percent from three. Those certainly aren’t the kind of numbers that replace the production of Harrison Barnes. But DFS is showing an ability to play within himself, and contribute on both ends of the floor. And after a game like Wednesday’s, that proves pretty valuable.
He hit both of his threes from the right corner, each on scramble plays where the defense couldn’t rotate to him in time, and he made them pay. And his other impressive offensive play started in the left corner, where he took advantage of a bad closeout from Ryan Anderson — shot faking, then driving the baseline. For DFS this season, these two plays need to be the bread and butter of his offensive game.
It would be nice to see Finney-Smith contribute more on the glass, and it seems many would have liked to see Carlisle give him more of a shot guarding Devin Booker (especially since no one else seemed able to slow him down at all). But DFS did give the Mavs some defensive versatility they are sorely lacking.
The Mavericks are hurting for wing depth, and will be all season, unless Ryan Broekhoff gets more of a shot, or the front office decides to make a move to fill out that part of the bench. So it will take a lot for DFS to lose a rotation spot. But as he adjusts to a bench role with Harrison Barnes soon returning, he’ll need to find ways to contribute like he did Wednesday night.
There’s a blueprint there for him to have a productive season, and to fulfill everything the organization believes he can be.