The Dallas Mavericks made it official Tuesday morning when they signed point guard Yogi Ferrell to a two-year, contract.
Since Ferrell joined the Mavericks, he has played in and started five games and they’ve posted a 4-1 record. The 6-footer from Indiana has given the Mavericks the energy they’ve been lacking and has also displayed leadership skills not often seen in a rookie.
“He came prepared to play, he picked up our stuff pretty quickly and he loves energy and is enthusiastic,’’ guard Devin Harris said. “I watched him play at Indiana and you knew he was that type of guy, that type of player.
“He just comes out and plays hard and that’s what you really want.’’
In the days leading up to last summer’s NBA Draft, Ferrell worked out for the Mavericks and for about half of the teams in the league, but no one decided to draft him.
“I had a great workout with them,’’ Ferrell said, referring to the Mavericks. “It was kind of like the middle tour of my pre-draft workout. But yeah, I felt like I had a pretty good workout, a strong workout and that’s why they called me back here.’’
Many European personnel were trying to sign Ferrell, including former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, who coaches Turkey’s Darussafaka. But Ferrell’s desire was to play in the United States.
Then, along came the Mavericks.
Ferrell played 10 games for the Brooklyn Nets and was playing for the Long Island Nets of the National Basketball Development League when he originally signed a 10-day contract with the Mavericks on January 28. From there, when the Mavericks saw the poise and leadership he displayed in wins over the San Antonio Spurs, the defending champion Cavaliers and the Philadelphia 76ers, they offered the Indianapolis, Ind., native a two-year contract.
Ferrell’s quick response?
Soon after agreeing to sign with the Mavericks, he went out and torched Portland’s Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers for a career-high 32 points while converting 11-of-17 shots. In that game Ferrell also connected on nine of 11 baskets from 3-point range, with the nine made 3-pointers representing an NBA record for made 3s in one game by a rookie.
What struck the Mavericks the most about Ferrell is his high basketball IQ. Owner Mark Cuban describes him as a player who is a “leader, under control, athlete, decent shooter, great foul shooter.’’
In his five games with the Mavericks, Ferrell is averaging 17.5 points and five assists, and is 15-of-30 from 3-point range for 50 percent.
But Cuban wonders out loud what will happen once teams get more film on Ferrell and start paying more attention to him.
“Then it might be different,’’ Cuban said. “I hope not, but we’ll see.’’
Ferrell scored 15 points and handed out five assists in the Mavericks’ 110-87 loss at Denver on Monday. The Mavericks are hoping his place on the fast track to success continues Tuesday night at 7:30 when they host the Trail Blazers at American Airlines Center.
“It’s been a change of pace, and definitely a change of scenery from being in Brooklyn and now in Dallas,’’ Ferrell said. “But it’s been fun, though.
“This is all I’ve been waiting for. This is what I’ve been preparing for all year.’’
Harris can sense the hunger in Ferrell.
“He knows he had a disadvantage coming up, but his hard play can take away a lot of that stuff,’’ Harris said. “The way he played Tony (Parker of San Antonio), and especially the way he played Kyrie (Irving of Cleveland), the way he defended, he wasn’t scared.
“He came out and made a presence for himself, and you can respect that.’’