PG NC State Dennis Smith Jr. 6’3” 195 6’3” wingspan
Player Comparison: Steve Francis/ Damian Lillard
Why here: New York is drooling at one of elite guards dropping to eight. Joining Fultz as another star from a failing college team, Dennis has leadership and x-factor questions. Luckily so do the Knicks. Hopefully Phil doesn’t box him to firmly into a triangle shaped offense.
Smith’s success will depend on his ability to mesh with Latvian Lord Porzingis. On paper it seems as if their games will coincide without any major issues, so hopefully it will be a mutually beneficial development process. To properly nurture their young talent, the Knicks would be smart to sign some seasoned veterans (for not a lot of money), and send away Melo to a team he wants to play for, but smart moves are not something New York management is known for. Regardless, they need a PG.
Strengths: Dennis Smith Jr is an athletic superboy. His handles flow like juice through the defense, and frequently end with firework punctuation at the rim. Range past the NBA three-point line and strength to bang with bigger bodies off penetration. Explosive and acrobatic finisher with both hands. Scores with ease on dribble drive. Pull up jumper is sweet… enjoys hitting contested shots… has array of step backs and hesitation moves. Kills defenders on switches… handle and shooting ability puts opponents in the blender and on the poster. Strong off-ball shooter, although he prefers to create his own.
Very physical on both ends of the floor… enjoys contact on drives… competent at drawing fouls. Thrives on the fastbreak… does extremely well in rebound and go situations. Is persistent defender when properly motivated. Has clear passing ability, just doesn’t use it correctly or often enough. Best at finding teammates on dribble drive and off p&r.
Weaknesses: Occasionally disappears from offense (could be attributed to coach scheming offense with him off ball). Streak and slump shooter, often becomes black hole in offense with jumper. Showed stretches of selfishness, over-dribbling, and settling for poor shots over swinging to open teammates.
Needs to improve as a passer… doesn’t make smart passes (passing up on the break, extra pass, open shooters, etc.)… looks for highlight feeds, often leading to turnovers… is lazy when doubled, results in tossing the ball away and other careless turnovers… entry post passes aren’t as accurate as would be desired… passing in general is very predictable, making teams look like gods in the passing lane.
Seemed to have certain level of chemistry issues… teammates not on same page in p&r… makes errant passes to where he expects teammate to be… is dismissive and solemn rather than vocal and motivational when things are awry (small discount to the weakness of his supporting cast).
Effectiveness on the defensive end is not promising, especially as a one position defender… frequently gets blown by off dribble… doesn’t help often… lacks intensity and drive. Caught guarding with arms by side… bites on shot fakes… sags too far off shooters. His strength and power doesn’t translate onto the defensive end (yet), would benefit from a defensive minded coach.
Outlook: Smith is going to have some ugly games, but he is going to be amongst the leaders in minutes by rooks. Unless they bring back Rose, DSmith should slide into a starting role where he will have relatively ultimate freedom to develop his preferences as a player. Porzingis should serve as a major beneficiary of his presence, as a pure shooter didn’t exist alongside Smith at school, a deficiency that clearly irked Dennis.
Random Prediction: 2019 NBA Slam Dunk Champion. Gets suspended for a game after dunking on Draymond and retaliating to Green’s low blow shove. 3x NBA All Star (2020-2021, 2025).