As they move closer and closer to one of the biggest decisions they’ll have to make in regards to the NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks must determine if Yogi Ferrell is their starting point guard of the future.
That important decision carries exponential weight if the Mavericks decide drafting a point guard is a position of immediate need.
Whether or not Ferrell can be the full-time starting point guard, coach Rick Carlisle would only say: “Time will tell. I do like Yogi in our franchise, on our roster.
“He certainly has proven that he can be a rotation player in this league.”
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Maybe, but a rotation player and the starting point guard of a team desperately trying to get back into the championship conversation are two entirely different entities.
“I feel like, yeah, I am a starting point guard in this league and I’m going to play whatever role coach decides to put me in,” Ferrell said. “I’m definitely just blessed to be here, glad to be here and I definitely want to be here for a very long time.”
An undrafted rookie from Indiana University, Ferrell burst onto the scene this season practically out of nowhere. Listed generously at 6 feet tall, the Indianapolis, Ind., native played 10 games for the Brooklyn Nets, but was toiling for the Long Island Nets in the National Basketball Association Development League when the Mavericks signed him to a 10-day contract on Jan. 27.
After just three games into his apprenticeship with the Mavericks – including successful stints against Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs, and Kyrie Irving and the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers — the Mavericks bypassed the traditional path of signing Ferrell to a second 10-day contract. Instead, they signed the feisty playmaker to a two-year deal that paid him $208,000 this season and will pay him $1.3 million next season.
Ferrell played 36 games for the Mavericks and averaged 11.3 points, 4.3 assists and 1.1 steals, while shooting 41.2 percent from the field and 40.3 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. He also scored 10 or more points in 21 games, distributed five or more assists in 20 games, and contributed two or more 3-pointers in 14 games.
But with a draft deep in point guards such as Washington’s Markelle Fulks, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr., Kentucky’s DeAaron Fox and Frank Ntilikina of France, can the Mavericks afford to pass up one of those gems while hanging their hats on the idea of Ferrell one day blossoming into a star?
“At this point in time, projecting exactly where he’s going to be is not really fair,” Carlisle said of Ferrell. “I love him as a competitor.
“He’s grown each and every day, each and every game. I’m just really thrilled we have him here.”
Ferrell isn’t concerned that the Mavericks might use their top-10 pick on a point guard. But if they do, that will undoubtedly limit his time on the court next season.
“No confliction at all,” said Ferrell, who started 29 games for the Mavericks. “I just want winners, that’s it.
“Guys that go out there and play for each other, play with a chip on their shoulders, play mad, angry. That’s what we especially need.”
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Ferrell, who turns 24 years old on May 9, played this season with a sense of purpose and with a healthy dose of arrogance. He felt he did enough at Indiana to be drafted, and once he joined the Mavericks, he was ready to showcase his wares.
In his first game with the Mavericks on Jan. 29, Ferrell finished with nine points, seven assists, two steals and a pair of game-clinching free throws in a 105-101 win at San Antonio. The very next night he collected 19 points, five rebounds and four steals in a 104-97 victory over the reigning champion Cavaliers.
And shortly after signing his two-year contract with the Mavericks, Ferrell torched Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers for 32 points and five assists in a 108-104 triumph. In that breakout game, Ferrell tied an NBA rookie record by making nine 3-pointers in 11 attempts.
That week developed into one of those experiences of a lifetime for Ferrell, especially considering the list of All-Star playmakers he faced.
“I didn’t try and look at them as All-Star guys,” said Ferrell, who eventually earned Western Conference Rookie of the Month in February. “Of course I’m going to give them that respect off the court – they’ve done great things.
“But on the court I’m just trying to do what they’ve done for many years and try to make a name for myself as well.”
Before joining the Mavericks, Ferrell had a workout with the Philadelphia 76ers that didn’t come to fruition. That, coupled with the experience in Brooklyn, left him doubting himself and pondering his future.
“I felt like I maybe had some doubt after I got waived by Brooklyn and didn’t get picked up,” Ferrell said. “The (failed) workout I had with (the Sixers) in the middle of the season. ...
“(I learned) just to never doubt my abilities, stick to what I’ve been doing and what’s gotten me here to this point.”
And not to worry about the draft. Even if it’s a draft he’s not involved in.
The Mavs really like Yogi Ferrell. but is he their point guard of the future? Here are the top point guards projected in this year’s NBA Draft.
Dennis Smith Jr...................................North Carolina State