Former Knicks Guard Gets Fresh New Start Heading Into 2022-23

Dennis Smith Jr., New York Knicks

Getty Dennis Smith Jr. of the New York Knicks looks on during their game against the Boston Celtics.

Over the last several seasons, the New York Knicks have seen a rather high turnover rate ranging from their roster all the way to their front office personnel.

And while many of their departees may find themselves still looking for work, one former Knickerbocker in Dennis Smith Jr. was recently scooped up by an Eastern Conference rival.

According to a September 21 report by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the sixth-year veteran has agreed to a one-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets.

Dennis Smith Jr., viewed as a key returning piece in the 2019 trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks, played in a total of 58 contests with the Knicks and posted averages of 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and a steal per game before being traded to the Detroit Pistons on February 8, 2021, in the exchange that brought Derrick Rose back to New York.

Most recently, the point guard served as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, where he played in 37 games and posted averages of 5.6 points, 3.6 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.2 steals in 2021-22.

Smith Jr. Still Has Upside

Though his NBA career may not seem to be all that impressive to this point in time, one could make the argument that Dennis Smith Jr. still possesses some promise.

After a stellar one-and-done season at NC State in 2016-17, boasting averages of 18.1 points, 6.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game, the point guard declared for the 2017 NBA Draft and was tabbed as one of the most intriguing prospects in his respective class and looked to have one of the highest upsides.

Selected ninth overall by the Mavericks, Smith Jr. had himself an impressive rookie season, finishing with 15.2 points, 5.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and a steal per game on 40% shooting from the field.

With his production, the point guard earned NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors and finished fifth in the running for the Rookie of the Year award.

Sadly, this would prove to be his best season to date in the association, for, despite the solid start to his career as a lead guard, Dallas opted to select another ball-dominant player during the following year’s draft in Luka Doncic.

The pairing proved to be a bad fit and, by the midway point of his sophomore season in 2018-19, Smith was traded to New York and his career has unfortunately been in a tailspin ever since.

Now, while things certainly appear to be bleak for the former lottery pick, still only 24 years old, there’s a chance that he could find a way to tap into his potential moving forward if put in the right situation and perhaps the Charlotte Hornets could provide him exactly that.

Head coach Steve Clifford helped revitalize the career of Jeremy Lin during his time with the franchise back in 2016-17. Who’s to say he can’t work his magic once again with a higher-upside talent like Dennis Smith Jr.?

Knicks Wing Gunning for All-Star Game

In a recent interview with KnicksFanTV, Knicks’ cornerstone RJ Barrett discussed his desire to become a first-time All-Star in 2022-23.

“I’m ready to get in the conversation. I’m ready to showcase what I can do,” Barrett said. “Every year I’ve been getting better, so there’s no better time than now.”

The wing would later go into depth about what kind of advancements Knicks fans can expect to see in his game.

“I’ve really been working on, just, stuff off the dribble, moves off the dribble, you know, being able to make shots off the dribble. And my finishing, you know, I think those two areas, being able to clean those up will help me and the team out along the way,” Barrett said.

Coming off of a solid third season where he posted a career-high 20.0 points per game to go along with 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists, the New York Knicks rewarded Barrett with a fresh new four-year contract extension worth up to $120 million, which will kick in during the 2023-24 campaign.

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