Calm, confident Dennis Smith Jr. stars in first NBA win – ESPN (blog)

1:12 AM ET

DALLAS — Dennis Smith Jr. didn’t even crack a smile.

Smith waved his arms, motioning for the crowd to cheer, while on his way to the bench during a timeout after drilling a cold-blooded 3-pointer to give the Dallas Mavericks a 13-point lead with 4:31 remaining. But he remained stone-faced, certainly not looking like a teenager who had the first win of his NBA career in reach, aside from the thin whiskers in his attempt at a mustache.

It’s not as if Smith was surprised by the moment or anything else about his efficient 19-point, five-assist, one-turnover performance in the Mavs’ 103-94 victory Wednesday night over the previously unbeaten Memphis Grizzlies.

“I do expect it,” Smith said, wearing his purple-and-pink “The Princess and the Frog” backpack. “I’m just playing basketball. I’ve been doing it since I was 6. It’s the highest level now, but I’ve worked to be on this level. I deserve this opportunity, and now I’ve got to own that and earn my keep.”

That mentality brings a smile to the face of a certain graybeard who still remembers what it was like to be a wide-eyed rookie.

Dennis Smith Jr. has shown a lot of confidence while remaining humble. Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports

“He’s a confident young man,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who admittedly was not during his first NBA season two decades ago. “He knows that he’s good. He knows the sky is the limit. As long as you’re confident and you’re humble about it — which he’s shown, he’s shown that he’s ready to work and listen — I think he’s going to be great.”

Smith, the No. 9 overall pick the Mavs hope develops into the next face of the franchise, has the kind of athleticism that causes crowds to gasp. There aren’t

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