The Knicks passed over Dennis Smith Jr. with the No. 8 pick in the 2017 draft, but they landed him anyway as part of the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster Thursday afternoon.
Smith left a strong final impression on the Knicks on Wednesday night at the Garden, where he racked up 13 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in the Mavericks’ 114-90 win.
Overall, though, the 21-year-old point guard’s numbers are down this season from his second-team All-Rookie campaign last year. Through 32 games this season, Smith is averaging 12.9 points, 4.3 assists, three rebounds and 3.1 turnovers per game. Last year, he averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 turnovers per game.
The 6-foot-3 Smith has missed time this year because of wrist and back injuries but will now try to be an answer to the Knicks’ never-ending point guard problem. Frank Ntilikina, whom the Knicks picked at No. 8 before the Mavericks scooped up Smith at No. 9, has struggled to prove himself consistently.
Before he was originally passed over by the Knicks, Smith earned ACC Freshman of the Year honors at North Carolina State in 2017.
Smith also has LeBron James in his corner because the four-time MVP mentored him in high school. James made waves last year when he said the Knicks drafted the wrong point guard.
“The Knicks passed on a really good one, and Dallas got the diamond in the rough,” James said in November 2017. “He should be a Knick. That’s going to make some headlines, but he should be a Knick. Dallas is definitely, I know they’re excited that he didn’t go there.
“He’s an unbelievable talent, athleticism. He’s very poised to be his age. Can shoot the ball, can penetrate, is only going to get better and better with the opportunity that he’s given here to play.”