The consensus was that New York Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. would look far different this upcoming season, why? Because he’s been spending a ton of time in the gym working on his jump shot – but then again, every play is doing that. Expecting him to elevate his game exponentially doesn’t make much sense, but it’s natural as a Knicks fan to think that way.
How did the point guards perform for the New York Knicks against Atlanta?
Both Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina looked abysmal offensively, finishing a combined 2-for-9 from the field. Neither hit a three-pointer on two attempts each and had six assists between them. Shutting down Atlanta’s star player Trae Young, was the task at hand for the point guards, and both got into early foul trouble and allowed him to run ramped for 23-points and nine assists.
Not only was their offense terrible, but their combined defensive efforts looked even worse. Ntilikina’s +/- rating was -7 and Smith finished at +5.
â€œAbsolutely,â€™â€™ Fizdale said when asked if Smith was rusty. â€œEspecially offensively. No rhythm at all. He has to play through that stuff and start shaking it off.â€
There’s little doubt that Smith isn’t at his peak performance yet, considering the time he has missed, so take that into account when thinking about this narrative. Ntilikina, on the other hand, looks awful and hasn’t been the FIBA World Cup player we all hoped he would be.
Smith has the athleticism and talent to be a top PG in the NBA, but finding his mental game and refining those tools in his shed will be the priority. Mechanics, decision making, awareness, etc.
With the optimism for Dennis, Ntilikina is falling off the shelf a bit. His offense was once again non-existent, but his defense late in the game kept the Knicks involved. He will likely be used in that facet during the regular season – a situational player that is utilized for his defensive qualities.
â€œWe didnâ€™t play the way we wanted to play on offense,â€™â€™ Ntilikina said. â€œBut itâ€™s only the third preseason game. We know defensively we can be a good team. The offense will come.â€™â€™
I’m not so sure, Frank, the offensive hasn’t come for quite some time.