Despite rumors and reports that the New York Knicks are considering moving veteran free-agent point guard Elfrid Payton to the top of the list at the position, youth option Dennis Smith Jr. still leads the pack for the starting role.
Smith has been dealing with a lower back injury that forced him to miss the first preseason game against the Washington wizards.
While Payton started the game, his performance wasn’t anything to write home about. He finished with five points, five assists, two rebounds, and two steals. His veteran presence was welcomed on the floor, but Smith has more potential, and sticking with him is the right move if the Knicks wish to develop his skillset and stick with him for the foreseeable future.
However, head coach David Fizdale was impressed with Payton’s performance against Washington.
“He set the tone for the game on the ball and with his pace. He got a lot of people involved, kept us organized,” he said. “Steady and tough.”
There is little doubt that Smith would have been the starting option if he was available to play. The Knicks only have three preseason games left before the regular season begins, so the young point guard must return soon and begin to build chemistry with his new teammates. Over two seasons with the Dallas Mavericks and Knicks in 2018, Dennis has averaged 14.5 points, five assists, 1.1 steals, and 6.1 rebounds per game.
The New York Knicks need to keep helping Dennis Ssmith Jr. grow:
The third-year player still has a lot of room to grow, and his jump shot should be the priority going into the 2019-20 season. He worked all off-season with Coach Keith smart to improve his shooting mechanics and elevate his scoring production/efficiency.
He must show improvement in his third year as Payton will be waiting in the wings to try and steal the starting job away from him. Coach Fizdale made it apparent that no player will be given plane minutes aside from RJ Barrett, and Smith will have to fight for his spot on the team just like everybody else.