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Dirk Nowitzki says Dennis Smith Jr. is meant to ‘attack’ in this league

The Dallas Mavericks don’t have much to fight for throughout the rest of the NBA campaign, but among the few bright lights of this 2017-18 season has been rookie Dennis Smith Jr., who they selected with the No. 9 pick in last year’s NBA Draft.

To franchise cornerstone Dirk Nowitzki, Smith has nowhere to go but up after notching 56 starts under his belt.

“He’s 20 years old,” said Nowitzki, according to Dwain Price of Mavs.com. His floor game is going to get better over the years, his decision-making is going to get better. But I love when he attacks. That’s what he’s meant to do in this league. He’s fearless. He goes in there against anybody.”

Smith was lauded as a potential dark horse for the Rookie of the Year award at the start of the season, given his explosiveness and raw athletic ability coming out of North Carolina State as a freshman.

His averages of 15 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and a steal per game have been clouded by the Mavs’ atrocious 19-45 record. Though Smith’s gameplay style could spell a much brighter future, as the team gets younger next season with the hopeful addition of some spry talent.

The 20-year-old has recently taken the reins, after logging only on 20-point game last month, he’s managed two consecutive 20-plus-point outings, matching the strong tear he had in January as the team’s floor general.

Neither his 25 or his 23 points proved enough against the Chicago Bulls or the New Orleans Pelicans respectively, but as he keeps attacking, it’s only more experience in his bag before he becomes a finished product.