For an NBA franchise, it’s always a pleasure when you have a talented young backcourt to lead your team back to the promise land. What’s even sweeter? When you have a coach that’s been in their shoes to show them the ropes. For the Mavericks, that young backcourt consists of Dennis Smith Jr., Luka Doncic, and Jalen Brunson. And the coach? God Shammgod.
Now, for those of you asking, “who is God Shammgod?” you might need to polish up on your basketball knowledge. Though he only played 20 games in the league during the 1997-1998 season with the Washington Wizards, Shammgod is a New York legend and became a legend in China during his decade of playing overseas. I mean, the guy has a move named after him, in which we see guys like Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook use in today’s game.
Shammgod is known for being one of the best crossover artists to ever touch a basketball. Today? You can find him sitting behind the Dallas Mavericks bench. Shammgod joined the Mavericks staff back in 2016 and has worked wonders as a player development coach helping players with their handle.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Shammgod following a Mavericks Summer League practice. He touched on DSJ’s development, working with Doncic and Brunson, and how DeAndre helps the Mavericks young backcourt.
Mulford: From when Dennis first walked in the building until now, what area do you think he’s made the biggest stride in?
Shammgod: Just more patience. He shoots better. I think he understands the game better and plays more at his pace than other players. He got stronger and he’s more explosive. You know, I’ve been knowing Dennis and doing stuff with Dennis since he was in the 9th grade. I just think he has a better understanding and he slowed down some, but it helped his game since he’s been such a gifted athlete his whole life that he could always do certain things and now he’s picking and choosing when to do those things.
Mulford: When it comes to drafting Luka and Jalen and playing them next to Dennis, how do you think those three will be able to play next to each other?
Shammgod: I think they’ll be great. From watching Luka play on tape, he’s a great passer and a great shooter. He’s an unbelievable person. Anytime you see him out here, you see how close he is with the players already. And for Jalen, he’s just a born leader. A high school leader, a college leader, and won championships. Jalen is very skilled, you know, his father played in the NBA so it’s like he’s a coach’s son so I think they’re all going to push each other.
Mulford: Speaking of Luka and Jalen, are there specific areas of their game that you already see a need to work with them on?
Shammgod: So far, I’ve been working with Jalen on changing pace, changing speed because he has a big body, so he can use his body better. With Luka, just quick twitches since the NBA is kind of different from Europe. Here, you don’t have to be super fast or super quick, but you have to be quick at the right times in the right moments.
Mulford: Lastly, by adding DeAndre Jordan, how much of a benefit does his pick-and-roll ability help Dennis and Luka coming off of screens?
Shammgod: I think it will be great. Especially for a guy like Dennis, because when he comes off the pick-and-roll now, people are going to be so worried about the lob and Dennis is so explosive that if the defense is one second too slow, Dennis will just get up and dunk. It’s just like if DeAndre catches the lob and Dennis can even at the last second throw the lob to DeAndre. And with Luka, it’ll be great because he can shoot real good and he has unbelievable timing on his passes so it will help him get acclimated even faster to the NBA.
I think it’s safe to say that the Mavericks young backcourt is in great hands with God Shammgod as a mentor in their corner.
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