The Defensive Evolution of Dorian Finney-Smith


Defense wins championships.

Flashy step-backs and crossovers grab attention from the media, but defense matters too. Especially in the playoffs. Without making First or Second team All-Defense, defensive players get minimal appreciation. The Dallas Mavericks have one player in particular that deserves more praise and that is Dorian Finney-Smith.

Brief History

Finney-Smith entered the league as an undrafted free agent. He was a defensive standout at Florida and quickly found his role as an athletic defender for the Mavs. Over the the past three seasons, DFS has improved his three-point shooting and with that has earned more minutes. DFS is a “3-And-D” with a well-rounded game and from a value standpoint is irreplaceable.


The coined “3-And-D” players are essential for a team’s success and yet are often overlooked. If unfamiliar, these players shoot well from three while also guarding the best players on the opposing team. The most popular examples are Houston’s Robert Covington and LA’s  Danny Green. Since these players are relatively well known, we will compare them to Dorian Finney-Smith in the 2020 playoffs.

Dorian Finney-Smith vs. Danny Green

Heading into the 2020 NBA season, Danny Green was a free agent target for Dallas. He ended up choosing the Lakers over the Mavs and Toronto Raptors. Even though the Mavs lost Green in free agency, it seems like they got the better deal.

DFS outpaced Green in points, rebounds and assists while shooting the same percentage (37%) from three in the playoffs. DFS also had the tougher defensive assignment of switching between Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Not bad for $11 million less a year!

Dorian Finney-Smith vs. Robert Covington

Covington is known for his defensive abilities and is the front-runner for “3-And-D” style players. He was sought out by the Rockets for their small-ball lineup and it seems to be a good fit. DFS and Covington are more comparable in the stats column, but Covington is still the better player for now.

DFS’ contract expires at the end of the 2022 season, earning $8 million over the next two years. The Mavs will have to make a generous offer in order to keep him, as players like Green and Covington are earning three or four times as much for the same output.

DFS Highlight Reel

Finney-Smith’s defense against the Los Angeles Clippers didn’t go completely unnoticed. Here’s a clip of DFS shutting down Paul George while also switching onto Kawhi Leonard. DFS was a nightmare for Paul George in the Mavs-Clippers series. PG’s struggles were evident when he shot 4-17 from the field in Game 2.

Even probable 2020 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo got familiar with DFS in this LeBron-like block from behind.

DFS’ athleticism is evident as he leaps towards the rim for this contested putback slam!

DFS shows his range from this kick-out from Jalen Brunson.


In terms of output for value, Dorian Finney-Smith is one of the best in the league. It’s not a stretch to say he is one of the best “3-and-D” players in the league. As they say, the stats don’t lie.

DFS contract extension is inevitable, the only question is how much?

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About Hunter Wilson

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