Summer league anticipation is real. After a few weeks without any real basketball to speak of, the opening weekend of the league’s summer showcase is always exceptionally exciting, even if the basketball is sometimes lacking.
In anticipation of each team having a high draft pick, the NBA granted a prime time slot to the Mavericks and Suns on Friday night. Here’s what to keep an eye out for in the first game for the Dallas Mavericks.
Who plays? Who sits?
The Mavericks have a rather interesting roster this time around, with at least two listed players in Dennis Smith and Luka Doncic who may not see any actual court time. (Update: Smith will play) It’s also worth noting that two Mavericks who received significant burn down the final regular season stretch in Kyle Collinsworth and Jalen Jones are also on the Summer League roster.
What more Dallas needs to see from either player at this point is worth asking. As of this moment, Collinsworth is officially on next year’s team as well unless he’s cut later on this summer. That’s four guys out of a fifteen man roster who might not see much playing time at all.
DeAndre Ayton versus the Maverick big men
The number one over all pick in the draft in DeAndre Ayton versus the trio of Johnathan Motley, Kostas Antetokounmpo, and Ray Spalding is the match up of the evening. Motley in particular should be looking forward to this match up as questions about his defense were one of the additional reasons past his knee injury as to why he went undrafted in 2017.
Ayton arrives to the NBA with a reputation of an offensive juggernaut yet there were more than a few games in the 2017 college season where he struggled against opponents with any sort of size.
Can Dorian Finney-Smith hit outside shots?-
After last summer league, I was convinced the Mavericks would part ways with DFS. He was brutal from the outside and showed nothing in terms of defensive impact that would lead one to believe he had a future a bench wing in the NBA. And yet the Mavericks held on to Finney-Smith heading into the 2017 regular season and stuck with him following his injury.
He has the build (6’8”, 220 pound) to intrigue, but unless he starts hitting outside shots, his role will always be extremely limited. Perhaps the Mavericks are content with what he brings to the table defensively, but their dedication to him remains curious at best considering the various wings which were available on the market.
How to watch
Tonight’s game is in prime time, at 8:30 pm on ESPN.