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Finney-Smith pays a big compliment to the new Christian Wood center

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Dorian Finney-Smith paid new Maverick Christian Wood the best compliment he could think of.

Based on Finney-Smith’s personal history, he believes the 6-10 center trade should be exactly what is needed for the Mavericks to continue their upward trend that has been underway for a few years and got the season off the ground. pass.

“I feel like when I have to protect someone, that’s a compliment on how good you are,” Finney-Smith said. “I had to protect him a lot, that means he’s pretty good.”

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Last season, only three teams in the Western Conference held Wood to a lower scoring average than the 16 points he averaged against the Mavericks, so Finney-Smith obviously held his ground. And he also knows a difficult task when he sees it, so he has respect for Wood.

Finney-Smith visited three different Mavs Academy camps this week and took time to visit mavs.com. She touched on a variety of topics, but mostly she reminisced about last year and got excited for an upcoming season that should be filled with optimism.

He said Wood’s arrival gives them something they need and a more athletic big man who can pair with Luka Dončić.

“I think it will give us a low post presence, something we haven’t had in a long time, although KP (Kristaps Porzingis) posted something,” Finney-Smith said. “I feel like I should be able to get along with Luka because he catches a lot of balloons, and Luka will release them.

“Over the last year, I’ve seen him shoot more 3-pointers and I already know what he can do with the ball in his hands by marking it. He is a tough guard because he is very versatile and he is long. He is playing off pick and pops. So he takes a guy like me to have to change.”

Finney-Smith isn’t the only Maverick with a history of going up against Wood, for whom they traded the 26th overall pick in last week’s draft and Boban Marjanović, Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss and Sterling Brown.

Wood, 26, grew up near Las Vegas and attended UNLV for two years. He also continues to train there and eventually met Jaden Hardy, the shooting guard the Mavericks acquired through a trade with the 37th overall draft pick.

“I’ve known Christian for a couple of years, he has roots in Las Vegas and he plays at UNLV,” Hardy said. “We have a good relationship. I feel like he brings versatility, the ability to be an outside shooter, to be a pick-and-roll threat. And on the defensive end, he loves to compete.”

Which, of course, is music to the defensive-minded Finney-Smith’s ears.

Like his teammates, he basks in the afterglow of the run to the Western Conference finals. The 6-7 forward is also set to start life in a new tax bracket when his new four-year, $55 million contract takes effect July 1.

When Golden State, which eliminated the Mavericks in five games in the West finals, won the championship two weeks later over Boston, Finney-Smith realized just how close the Mavericks were to the promised land.

He said he’s had enough time to think about it now to appreciate what the Mavericks did.

“Yes, I have, especially with Golden State winning the championship,” he said. “And we didn’t feel like they were much better than us. We felt like we were just a couple of shots away from being in the final. We have open looks, the same open looks that we’ve been doing all year. We just didn’t make them a couple of games in that series.

“But we have that taste in our mouths, and I want more. It was fun, man, the whole thing.”

Wanting more is something that is felt throughout the team these days. And that’s why Wood’s acquisition seems like such an important moment in franchise history. He is a young player who has been very good as a modern-style center, meaning someone who can shoot the 3-pointer but also defend and rebound.

“I think he will be able to help us win and go to the next level,” Finney-Smith said. “I think he also wants to win. It’s time for him to have a winning season. I’ve been there before (on losing teams). And there was nothing good about it. So it’s time to turn that around.”

Twitter: @ESefko

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