The story of Dennis Smith Jr is a very interesting one. The lottery pick out of North Carolina State was drafted by Marc Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks, a team at the time looking to build for the future. In his rookie year, Smith averaged about 15 points a game, on 39.5% shooting, 31% from beyond the arc. Pretty solid rookie campaign, but Dallas knew that this kid could ball, and become something special. Smith eventually became a big part of the Mavericks rotation in 2017, and then 2018 came around. 

The Mavs made one of the greatest moves in franchise history in the 2018 NBA draft, trading for number 3 overall pick Luka Doncic. Doncic quickly became one of the most hyped rookies, winning rookie of the year, and proving he is the future for Dallas. Dennis Smith Jr, however was “forced” into a sophomore slump. By no means does that serve disrespect to the Mavs, it’s just that the NBA is a business, and Dallas got right what they wanted in Luka, and needed to pair him up with another superstar. That superstar ended up being 7 foot Latvian Kristaps Porzingis. In the trade with the Knicks, the Mavs sent Smith Jr to New York, where he received a good amount of playing time in his first season, and it went downhill after that. In the 34 games that Smith played in as a Knick in 2019, he averaged a career low 5.5 points per game, along with a career low 34% from the field. 

At this point, New York had lost their faith in DSJ, and ultimately reduced his playing time. In this first part of the season with the Knicks, he played just 3 games mostly because NYK didn’t believe he would be the best fit for this team. They weren’t really shopping him, but there was no use of him being in New York. That is when Smith realized that he could get more playing time to prove himself elsewhere, and that place wasn’t the NBA. It was down in Disney World playing in the G-League bubble for the Worcester Knicks. The Knicks granted his request, and we all thought that was where we’d see him for the next couple months. Just a few days later, the Knicks and Pistons agreed to a trade that would send Rose to the Big Apple, and the Pistons would receive a young player in Dennis Smith, and a future pick.

As it stands, Detroit is the perfect place for Dennis Smith’s situation. He wants a good amount of playing time, with a team that wants him. The Pistons check mark both of those. DSJ has worked his way up to the starting lineup, and has impressed a lot of people. Just a few games ago, he dropped a triple-double in a win over Toronto. He’s putting up 15-20 points a game playing as efficient as ever. With his dunks, speed, he has it all. It really looks like the sky is the potential for this kid. He was humble enough to ask to go down a level to the G-League, but things ended working out for him and he is playing solid ball in the NBA. I believe that the NBA is right where he belongs, because when a team like the Knicks finds a way to throw away young talent, anybody would try to find playing time come contract season, which is exactly what Smith Jr did. 

At the end, we could see DSJ flee elsewhere this offseason. But if there is one thing to takeaway, it is that this man has proven a lot of people wrong. With his athleticism and defensive talent, he could easily reach the tier 2 or 3 or top NBA point guards in no time. His 3 ball will need to get worked on a little, but if he keeps his confidence up and the Pistons continue to play him, everyone will know of him very soon. 

Top Photo: Getty Images

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