NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Dennis Smith

by Jonah Ballow
NYKnicks.com
@jonahballow

The Path
The North Carolina native remained in his home state for high school where he built a significant resume and an eventual spot in the top ten in national recruiting services.  Dennis Smith was named North Carolina’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2015 before heading to North Carolina State.  In 2016-17, Smith averaged 18.1 points, 6.2 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per game and received ACC Rookie of the Year honors.  His personal achievements at North Carolina State led to Smith bouncing from the college ranks to entering his name in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Strengths
The 19-year old owns an NBA-ready frame with the strength, speed, and explosiveness that NBA scouts seek when examining prospects.  Smith is devastating in the open floor due to his extreme burst and an ability to launch for highlight reel jams.  Not only is Smith powerful in traffic but he is shifty with a nice change of pace game as the primary ball handler.  The point guard shot 35.9 percent from the 3-point line on 4.8 attempts per game.  The number that really jumps off the page is free throw attempts at 6.3 per game.  For a 6’3” point guard, Smith attacks the rim as evident in the high-volume trips to the charity stripe.  He can heat up quickly and generate offensive in rapid fashion.  Defensively, Smith shows the potential to lock-up his opposition in isolation situations.

Next Level
The common thought with Smith is that he will thrive in the NBA with high-level talent around him.  Evaluating his one season at North Carolina State is difficult in that regard.  However, his production and physical attributes are extremely enticing for teams drafting from picks 7-11.  Currently, Smith is a player projected in the area where the Knicks select at No. 8.  As Phil Jackson mentioned following the Lottery, New York is searching for a point guard this summer.  Smith’s playmaking skills are certainly attractive and he might eventually become the best point man in a top-heavy point guard class.

Statistically Speaking
Smith is the only player in ACC history to post two triple-doubles while facing league opponents in an entire college career.

What They’re Saying
“Smith might be the best one-on-one scorer in this draft — he was absolutely dominant efficiency-wise in isolation situations this season, and is built to attack the basket, draw fouls and help shoulder somebody’s offense.” –Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated