Mike Gallagher

Offseason Beat

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Summer League Summary: DSJ

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


So after 17 days, Summer League is a wrap. We saw guys go off in Orlando, Utah and Las Vegas in that span with highlights, low lights, but no Delon Wrights. This was expected to be one of the strongest draft classes, and it lived up to the billing in those 2.5 weeks. It was a lot of information to digest and we probably have to move one notch over on the ol' belt, but it was quite the delicious meal for a hardcore hoops head.

 

Usually, I’ll go through the games with a team-by-team approach, but this year it probably makes more sense to roll through it with some fantasy spin and get cracking on the rankings. 

 

There are a lot of non-rookie players and usually those guys crush. After all, when you’re a professional basketball for a year and you’re working with the best coaches and players on the planet, you should dominate.

 

So we’ll go through the rookies for how I would expect their stat output to go for the 2017-18 season. After that, we will take a look at the veterans and what their production means. It’ll be a fantasy guideline from top to bottom for nine-category leagues, so keep in mind efficiency and turnovers will be a big factor in this.

 

I got a little carried away with my top guy, so we’re only going one deep to kick it off. DSJ FTW.

 

1. Dennis Smith Jr. - Where do we start? Before we even get into what he’ll bring to the table on the stat sheet, the fun factor is out of this world. I mean, there’s no way I posted as many videos of one player at Summer League more than DSJ. Maybe not even 25 percent of his total. 

 

There are one (!), two, three, four, five, six , seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 different reasons to love watching DSJ. And that's just from Summer League. Yes, each of those is linked to a different highlight. Have a great weekend. 

 

He has top-notch explosion, he gets on balance for jumpers despite his wild acceleration/deceleration, he can pass, and his instincts to get steals are all arguably the best in this draft class -- De'Aaron Fox is also incredible at that. DSJ also has the bulldog mentality to rip the ball away from ball-handlers to earn some steals.

 

For his Vegas run, it obviously translated to some big production, averaging 17.3 points, 4.8 boards, 4.2 assists, 2.2 steals and 0.2 blocks. He filled it up at every level of the court with plenty of mid-range buckets and a bunch of threes as a catch-and-shoot guy or off the bounce.

 

Last year, we saw Kris Dunn rip up Vegas with his blow by moves, but he flopped in his rookie season. It wasn’t just because he was buried behind Ricky Rubio because even Tyus Jones was ahead of him at times — Tyus also had a killer 2016 Vegas and was MVP. DSJ is different, though.

 

He didn’t just blow by people. He put the last line of defense on its heels with his array of moves. His skill level is off the charts and he keeps defenders off balance constantly. Plus, he was a solid finisher in college, making 64.9 percent of his shots at the rim. Those shots did carry him with 37.1 percent of his total coming from that range. By comparison, Kris Dunn made 62.9 percent at the rim with those accounting for 37.9 percent of his total. That’s also in his third college season, so DSJ is clearly more impressive in what is the best part of their games.

 

Another aspect that really showed up was him drawing fouls. He’s just faster than basically anyone, so defenders are just going to hit him and not the ball when they’re around the basket. DSJ went to the line 6.3 times per game at NC State and a whopping 8.2 times per game over his last five in Las Vegas. He did that damage in Vegas over just 26 minutes per game, so that is a James Harden-like free throw rate. DSJ wasn’t the best free throw shooter in college at just 71.5 percent, but you can bet he’ll be improving on that going forward, especially if he’s going to make his money at the line like many superstar perimeter players.

 

Taking a look at some of his college stats, there’s a lot to like. It’s not all great because his 56.2 true shooting percentage isn’t helping him, but he did have a 27.2 usage rate as the top possession user on his team. He also didn’t really pop as a shooter, making just 30.5 percent on twos and 35.8 percent on treys. His treys were unassisted a whopping 51.9 percent of the time, which is kind of Russell Westbrook neighborhood. OK, maybe it’s in the same ZIP code because Westy was assisted just 18.8 percent of the time. 

 

As you’ve probably heard, DSJ has his front office and ownership behind him. Owner Marc Cuban said “this is the beginning of the Dennis Smith era” after he was drafted and he said the Mavs war room was shouting with excitement once the Knicks took Frank Ntilikina. Coach Rick Carlisle said he’s “extremely excited” with the pick, and he hasn’t really hinted that he’s going to limit him. Yes, we know Jim Carrey Carlisle isn’t the biggest fan of rookies, but keep in mind he really gave Yogi Ferrell some run. If a rookie isn’t good, he’s not going to play. Plus, the Mavs ran a two-PG lineup with Yogi and DSJ in Vegas, which could be a winning combo. Although, they’re going to be really small in the backcourt with Seth Curry also in the mix. That’s OK.

 

Oh and he has a 48-inch vertical. He also said he gained eight inches on his vert after he tore his ACL in high school. Yeah, that makes sense.

  

 

Alright, so what are we looking at with DSJ? The Mavs were extremely slow with their 29th-ranked 94.2 pace on the year, but their personnel dictated that they go slow. DSJ’s style should get them to push the rock more and he’s not a guy who should use clock. They won’t be fast, but they should be closer to 20th than 30th for pace.

 

There’s also a lot of usage to be had. Among the qualifiers, you want to guess who led the Mavs in usage rate? Harry B? Nope. Dirk? NOwitzki. It’s J.J. Barea. One thing that’s also crazy about the Mavs is that their top eight players for usage rate were below average for effective field goal percentage (eFG%). They really need a boost in efficiency and there’s a reason why they came in at second worst for eFG% in the Western Conference. Very un-Mavericks.

 

Another thing that works well for DSJ is how the Mavs have a good offense. Despite not having strong passer and Harry B’s second-ranked isolation frequency for play type (Jamal Crawford), they still came in at 10th for assist percentage. It’s no secret Rick Carlisle can get a point guard going. Rookie or no rookie. Hey, Yogi was a sensation after the Nets cut him  -- that was a Boo-Boo for BK. DSJ has also said his favorite player is Baron Davis and you could see a lot of similarities in their games. Davis was a top-five fantasy player at his peak, so we could see DSJ have that kind of output once he gets rolling.

 

Bottom line, I’m pretty much willing to risk it all on DSJ. He looks like a top-50 target for re-draft fantasy leagues and it’ll probably cost you. He will probably be subpar in field goal percentage and turnovers, but he should be elite in steals and plus in all the other point guard categories we care about. He’s also going to put up like 1,000 highlights next season.

 

This is the beginning of the DSJ era.



Mike Gallagher has covered fantasy hoops for eight years and this season is his second with Rotoworld. You can find him on Twitter talking about a player's shots at the rim.



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