Dennis Smith Jr. hasn’t really had the career we all envisioned.
The kid was an elite 5-star coming out of high school, came to State, put up numbers, but didn’t win anything. In fact, the 2016-17 Wolfpack team went 15-17, lost 7 straight ACC games in the middle of the season, and as the #13 seed was ousted by the #12 seed Clemson in round 1 of the ACC Tourny. But hey, he averaged 18 points, 6 assists, and 4 boards!
Then onto the NBA, where it looked like he had finally found his footing. He averaged 15 points, 5 assists, and 3 boards for the Mavs. In year two, he was traded to the Knicks halfway through the season but averaged 14 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds.
Then the wheels came off. Smith averaged 5 ppg the next season and was shooting just 34% from the field. Anyways, the next few seasons have been awful for Smith. He’s either been injured, benched, or just plain bad.
People thought maybe this year would be different. He was finally out of New York and in Portland around a more talented cast. And he’s played here and there, but really hasn’t done much in the reserve role.
However, this past Saturday, Smith Jr finally got the start in place of the injured Anfernee Simons, and he kinda went off.
Smith went for 21 points, 6 assists, 4 boards, 3 steals, and not a single turnover.
Then on Monday night, Smith played 39 minutes, scored 13 points on 6-11 shooting, was 1-1 from 3, and had 7 assists and 6 boards (however he did have 7 turnovers).
Unfortunately, they lost both of the games.
When Simmons comes back, Smith is back to the bench and if he keeps playing like he did over the past couple of games, he might remake himself into a quality backup PG in this league.
However, if he can’t keep it up, this might be his last stop. Smith has lost some of the top-tier level explosiveness he had earlier in his career. He doesn’t have elite vision as a PG, and he’s not a reliable shooter.
On the plus side, the kid is still just 24 years old, has a good handle, and great size. And heck, maybe this is the beginning of the DSJ resurgence?
…Or maybe it’s Dennis Smith’s last stand. We’ll have to wait and see.