With Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis ushering in a new era of Dallas Mavericks basketball this season, it can be easy to overlook the growth of a player like Dorian Finney-Smith. One of several key role players that bridged the gap from bottom dweller to playoff problem in just a few short years, Finney-Smith arrived in Dallas a raw and flawed product. In true Dallas Mavericks fashion they took the undrafted project and molded him into a bonafide starter.
A storyline over the last several seasons in his own development has been his shooting stroke — it doesn’t hurt that he played this season with the best spacing an NBA floor has ever seen — and Finney-Smith finally saw improvement in his three-point percentage by a full three-percent. Is that sustainable? No, probably not. But DFS going from a 30-percent three-point shooter to connecting on 37-percent this season is one of the many reasons this Mavericks team won 43 games.
Finney-Smith averaged 10 points, six rebounds and two assists in nearly 30 minutes per game in the regular season, and maintained production in his first NBA postseason action — even bumping to three assists per game in six games against the Los Angeles Clippers. DFS made the move to permanent starter this season, proving to be a Rick Carlisle favorite for his effort and versatility. And with the absence of Dwight Powell, Finney-Smith played 75-percent of his minutes at power forward; perhaps a sign of his permanent future role in Dallas.
Dorian Finney-Smith earned his playing time in Dallas by being a lengthy, and sometimes scrappy, perimeter defender. And while he hasn’t exactly shown consistency as an isolated defender, Carlisle has relied on he and Maxi Kleber to bring their versatility defensively to combat dynamic perimeter opponents.
But Finney-Smith’s best game this season was due to, of all things, his shooting. And it wasn’t so long ago. When the Mavericks snagged a win against the Milwaukee Bucks the NBA Bubble regular season, much of the attention was (rightfully so) on Luka Doncic’s late game heroics. One more time for good measure. But DFS had a monster game: 27 points, 11 rebounds, five assists (!), while connecting on 6-of-12 from deep. He had an Offensive Rating of 144 for the night. Have a game Dorian.
Without the doubt a major story next season for the Mavericks will be whether or not the role players, many of whom had career seasons this year, can replicate similar production. Finney-Smith will never be a primary scorer. But it was nice to see him have some breakout shooting nights this season, while still being a defensive workhorse.
Finney-Smith just completed the first season of a three year deal that pays him $4 million per year. Considering the way he played this season, the Mavericks have a very team friendly contract with DFS. If he continues playing at this level, it’s a steal.
Unless there is a major overhaul in the Mavericks’ roster for the 2020-21 season (or I guess perhaps just the 2021 season depending on start date) Dorian Finney-Smith will remain a starter and key role player.
With the success of the Mavericks offense, especially once Porzingis moved to center, DFS is likely best suited for the power forward role. Lucky for Dallas, Finney-Smith has enough versatility defensively that he can switch onto most wing scorers, likely guarding positions two through five.
On the offensive end DFS needs to prove he can carry his shooting success over to a second season. He connected on 39-percent of Catch & Shoot threes, finding particular success in the right corner where he connected on 42-percent of his attempts. If DFS can be the Mavericks’ fifth best starter, they will take a step toward true contender status. A tip of the cap to Dorian Finney-Smith for a season of growth.