Dennis Smith Jr.: Point Guard of the Future?
When the New York Knicks decided to trade Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks, it was hard to see a definitive upside. Maybe the team would sign one or maybe even two free agents. Perhaps the team would acquire a top notch prospect through the draft. However, all of these were contingencies that fans would have to wait and see. Yet, there is one upside that fans can see right now: the potential of Dennis Smith Jr.
How did we get here in the first place?
Smith is a second year point guard out of NC State University, that came into the league brimming with potential. His most notable feature? His high flying prowess that allows him to live above the rim. Fans initially wanted the Knicks to draft Smith back in the 2017 draft, with the team instead choosing to go for Frank Ntilikina. Smith ended up in Dallas, where he received considerable minutes until the team brought in Luka Doncic. It became apparently clear that the two could not play together and the Dallas Mavericks decided to move Smith.
Back in the Garden, the Knicks decided to develop the young core, which comprised of Frank Ntilikina. He was positioned to be the team’s point guard going forward. However, the young French guard was slow to develop and display the confidence that a starting point guard would require. During his time with the Knicks, Ntilikina was able to show glimpses of basketball brilliance, but those glimpses were rare. Thus, it started to become clear that the team would have to look elsewhere to find an elite point guard. Then came Dennis Smith Jr. Smith has more fire to him, and has taken over as the team’s starting point guard. For now, he is the go to point guard and will likely be for the future.
Let’s talk about the future and Smith’s Potential.
Its no secret that the Knicks have the majority of its focus on next season. This season is pretty much over and the only contention that the Knicks are still involved in is tanking for Zion. Free agents and draft picks will be on the team’s radar as the team looks to make a splash into the playoffs next season. However, the Knicks have some good pieces to build around as well and one of those pieces is certainly Dennis Smith Jr.
Smith’s energy and approach to the game is reminiscent of the play of Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose, especially early on in their careers. He is able to attack the rim like few other players, but his game doesn’t end there. While averaging 16.1 points per game, the young point guard is racking up 6.9 assists per game. Not to mention, he is getting 1.7 steals per game, all the while shooting 43.7% from the field.
Let’s talk about the hole’s in Smith’s game.
So what is Smith’s game lacking? Like Westbrook and Rose early on, Smith is not a threat from deep. He is only hitting 27.3% from the three point line, which is considerably bad. Additionally, he has trouble getting it done at the free throw line, only hitting 55.1% from the charity stripe. Seeing that his game is built on slashing to the basket and driving, Smith will likely draw a good amount of fowls. Thus, he will need to hit from the line as well.
Of course, the team may be poised to surround Smith with more shooters. Going forward (especially in today’s age) he will need to develop his shot to be able to compete with the other elite point guards in this league. However, it is not a stretch of the imagination that he will one day be on their level.
Dennis Smith Jr. can be a point guard that can really help bring this team into the playoffs. With him at the helm, a championship may not be far off either. Both offensively and defensively, he has the “it factor.” He needs to make some improvement and probably increase his scoring numbers, but if the Knicks play it right, Smith can do a lot for them. Depending on who the Knicks bring in next season, Dennis Smith Jr. may be able to do a lot of good for this team. In the meantime, fans can enjoy a few more highlight plays from this young point guard as he learns how to be a cornerstone of an organization.
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