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Dorian Finney-Smith needs to find consistency

The Mavericks forward enters an important contract year.

2021 NBA Playoffs - LA Clippers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

Dorian Finney-Smith is one of only two players that remains from the darkest of the rebuilding years. He and Dwight Powell both have grown immensely with the Mavericks, carving out legitimate roles on a team that is now expected to regularly be playoff contenders. Growing with a team rebuilding and being around long enough is a unique trajectory not always common in the league.

Now the 28 year old forward finds himself at another important crossroads. He enters the final year of a three-year $12 million contract, is eligible for a four-year $55 million contract extension, however no deal with the Mavericks has been agreed upon at the time of this writing. This is perhaps the most important season in Finney-Smith’s career.

Big Question

Even in his first season, joining the Mavericks as an undrafted free agent, it was clear that former head coach Rick Carlisle had an affinity for the former Florida Gator. To his credit, Finney-Smith did the things outside of scoring that earns playing time in Carlisle’s system. With his hustle and defense he saw opportunity, and with that Carlisle put more faith in him. Even going so far as to say Dorian Finney-Smith should have been a lottery pick.

  • There is little doubt he would be a rotation piece on all 30 teams in the league. But his role in Dallas is crucial, probably even larger than he should be given. That is, when Carlisle was in charge.

So what happens with a new coach? One of Carlisle’s greatest strengths was elevating the play of players like Finney-Smith. Can the five-year pro find the same production, whether or not his role changes in a new system?

Best Case Scenario

In his first four seasons he’s done nothing but improve year over year. Finney-Smith went from a horrid three-point shooter in his first three seasons to being a legitimate threat from deep, all at a higher volume. But what he hasn’t done quite yet is find consistency.

Look, last season was a mess all around. Between the tight schedule, Covid-19 protocols, after little to no offseason, it’s no surprise numbers were funny. For Finney-Smith, his season can be broken up into three distinct sections — and his numbers from deep are sort of strange:

  • LEG 1 — (8 games) 14-of-43 from three: 32.6-percent

*Missed nine games due to Covid protocol

  • LEG 2 — (21 games) 34-of-96 from three: 35.4-percent

*Missed two games for the birth of his son

  • LEG 3 — (31 games) 71-of-163 from three: 43.6-percent

In a perfect world Finney-Smith finds a middle ground, and a path to consistency. Too often last season, with Finney-Smith and nearly every other starter, it was feast or famine. A best-case is averaging somewhere around 12 points and six rebounds while shooting near 40-percent from three. Even if he’s just making camp in the corners, the Mavericks need Finney-Smith and others to be consistent threats to maintain the spacing. If he can do this, while creating solid defensive tandems with Reggie Bullock or Frank Ntilikina around the perimeter, then the Mavericks will be cooking.

Worst Case Scenario

It finally gives. The growth rate we’ve seen from DFS always felt suspicious, and now are worries are confirmed. Under new head coach Jason Kidd he comes out cold and unable to hold up defensively, so much so that his starting spot is in question. With Carlisle not around to put him in ideal situations and give him a long leash, Finney-Smith gets lost in the shuffle.

Overall

Even with Carlisle not around, Finney-Smith still has the outrageous fortune of playing alongside Luka Doncic. With that in mind, I think we can expect similar production from Dorian. He’s done a fantastic job of finding his role on this team. It will certainly be something to watch, as next summer will be a very big summer for his future — assuming an extension isn’t agreed upon before then.