This Dennis Smith Jr. missed dunk is exceptional basketball

Dennis Smith Jr. has been one of the most exciting players in Vegas. (Getty Images)

There is a bias against any sports highlight that does not lead to a positive result. That’s understandable enough — the goal is to win the game, not do cool stuff, and any play that doesn’t get a team closer to that end isn’t an effective one. But we fans do not have to abide by that rule if we don’t want to. Unless we watch basketball solely for a particular rooting interest, it’s OK to like something just because it’s beautiful, or surprising, or so audacious as to be admirable. Let the talk of winning and losing wait for after the game.

Anyway, this missed dunk from Dallas Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is the best play I’ve seen at the Las Vegas Summer League:


Smith had a terrific game overall, scoring 25 points on 9-of-19 shooting to lead the Mavericks to an 83-76 win. As such, it’s easy enough to cast this miss as part of a winning performance. This kind of attacking mentality allowed Smith to thrive, and it’s the kind of approach that has made him one of the most exciting players in Vegas this week.

But the play would be great enough on its own. Smith sizes up the defense, attacks, displays tremendous athleticism, and arguably only misses because he went too hard to the rim. It’s basketball at its most brazen and intense, a play so exceptional that the otherwise lax atmosphere in the gym can’t rob it of its power.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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