The primary deficiency that’s holding New York Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. back from being an explosive player in the league is his shooting efficiency. Add in his lack of assists and ability to spread the ball around the floor, and you have a player that’s not acting as a true game manager.
With a .413 field goal percentage last season with the Knicks, Smith will need to improve upon that number to solidify the starting job in his third year in the NBA. Veteran free-agent signing Elfrid Payton statistically represents the better option at point guard for the Knicks, but I imagine they will stick with the younger option due to his overall potential and desire to develop him into the future at the position.
The New York Knicks need to extract the best out of Dennis Smith Jr.:
The lens of Dennis Smith Jr. ranges far and wide — is he an All-Star, simple starter, sixth man, or just athletically gifted? At first glance, he seems to have the physical traits to be an above-average player in the league, but he has failed to live up to that reality.
Barely shooting 40% from the field and 30% from three-point land, Smith’s numbers seem to be regressing over time. Having such impressive traits would indicate an agile development or at least a positive trend. The tangibles seem to be present, but his mental game has kept him from progressing to the point of real quality.
Bad shot selection, indigent defense, and behavioral issues in Dallas have plagued his career, but a fresh start in New York could provide him with the opportunity to push past his past struggles. Ultimately, Smith wants to lead the Knicks with his athleticism and playmaking ability, but I imagine he will be on a short leash considering Payton’s production in recent years.
Dennis will be starting point guard, but for how long? That’s entirely up to him. However, working this offseason tirelessly to refine his jump shot and improve his scoring efficiency will help him mature into the player he needs to be for the Knicks. He recently dropped 50 points in the Crossover League and has been working with Atlanta Hawks’ star, Trae Young.
With a fresh start in New York and the right pieces around him to elevate his game, Smith has the resources available to explode in 2019 finally.