Maryland junior Dez Wells is one of the most dangerous playmakers in the ACC. His size and strength make him a tough cover for many guards, while his athletic ability makes it tough for forwards. Down the stretch last season, he showed a more consistent jump shot, and throughout the season showed a killer instinct that few players possess.
Another aspect of Dez’ game that we saw glimpses of was his ability to run the floor. Not just running the floor and getting to open spots, but running the floor with the ball. In doing so, Dez was able to create more opportunities for himself to score at the rim. For example, there was this gem of a highlight from Maryland’s season finale at Virginia.
Don’t worry, take your time watching it.
Trust me, I know how awesome it is.
Well, now that I have you back from watching that clip several times, here are two plays I picked to show a little bit more than that dunk. Like in my piece on Seth Allen’s shooting, I went back to the Maryland vs Duke ACC Tournament game. As I noted there as well, that was probably Maryland’s best game of the season, and offered a lot to be broken down for next year.
1) 7:20 Left in the second half. Maryland 59 Duke 52.
Following a Tyler Thornton brick, Dez grabs the rebound. Dez is assessing the floor, and taking a second to see where everyone goes before taking the ball up.
Now that everyone is back, Dez turns on his jets at half court. Why you ask? Pe’Shon Howard and Nick Faust stay on the strong side, but at the three point line, and Seth Allen does the same on the weak side. Faust and Allen have both knock down a couple of three pointers, which keeps their defenders out with them. Seth Curry (On the “C”) is protecting the lane, but with Len coming his way, it won’t last much longer.
Ryan Kelly has finally realized that Dez is coming full speed. He turns to slow him down, but is caught flat footed at the free throw line. Len has put his back to Mason Plumlee to slow him down. Faust got caught running the baseline for a second, but is recovering back and bringing Seth Curry with him. Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton are already out of the play, leaving Dez with a 3 vs 2 situation.
Len has put himself between Dez and Seth Curry, which takes Curry out of the play. Plumlee is caught too deep in the paint, and instead of looking to contest looks to take a charge. With Len boxing out Curry and Plumlee not looking to contest, Dez is able to extend his shooting arm, which puts more distance between himself and Ryan Kelly.
A better view of the finish, shows us how much room Dez and Len have created. Dez has enough room to avoid contact with Plumlee, who may or may not have a heel on the restricted circle. It’s not the easiest of finishes, but Dez’s quick read of the situation forced Duke’s defense out of position, and gave him a look at the rim. In a close game with under 8 minutes left, baskets like this are tough to come by. Getting to the rim and rim finishing continues to put pressure of the team that is losing.
2) 6:24 left in the second half. Maryland 63 Duke 52
A minute later, Dez grabs another rebound, in the same spot. Two things immediately pop out differently about this play than the last. First, both of Duke’s guards (Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook) are behind the play already. Second, Plumlee is looking to stop the ball in the back court.
Dez uses his quickness to leave Plumlee in the back court. Faust is running the floor well, and recognizes where Dez is going. As important as Faust making sure to occupy Curry, is Seth Allen. Seth is in line with Dez, but giving him room to dribble. Most importantly, Seth is about to put Ryan Kelly in an awkward spot, who will he guard?
Dez’s natural instinct is to look to finish with his right hand. By doing so, he attacks the paint, and has forced Kelly into a one on one situation with him. Quinn Cook, who is guarding Seth Allen, is the last man back on the play. Since Quinn is late and Faust went to the strong side, everyone except Seth has gone to the strong side.
Curry recovers to block the rim, but Dez has already recognized that he has an open shooter on the weak side. A tough pass and a tough play to recognize at full speed, but Dez does a great job of doing both. He sees Kelly getting into position to take a charge, and Curry blocks off the angle for Dez to go around Kelly. Sulaimon is out of the play, Plumlee is behind him, and Cook is trailing, which leaves Seth Allen wide open. Dez makes a quick decision and sticks with it, and delivers a beautiful pass to Seth Allen. Unfortunately, Seth misses the shot and it’s a golden opportunity rendered moot.
Regardless of the outcome of this play, this was a great look to set up. Seth had hit two three pointers already, and is a confident shooter. Dez had already shown the ability to finish at the rim in transition, which made the defense fearful of it again. One of the keys for Maryland in this game was getting out and running, Dez Wells made sure to do that when given the chance. I don’t think Maryland would be able to succeed if they pushed tempo on every play, but doing so in spurts will be important for them. With a year under his belt at Maryland, and better understanding of his teammates, Dez can look to not only push the ball but create open looks in transition.