Draft Profile: Dennis Smith Jr.

2017 Draft Profile Series presented by Putnam Investments

Dennis Smith Jr.
G | 6'3" | 195 LBS.18.1 PPG | 4.6 RPG | 6.2 APG

* Photo courtesy of Getty Images


Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author(s) and don't represent the opinions of the Celtics front office.


Why You Might Know Him

NC State had gone 22 years without winning a game on Duke’s home court. That is, until Dennis Smith Jr. came along on Jan. 23, 2017, and led the Wolfpack to a massive upset at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The freshman point guard scored a career-best 32 points while guiding NC State to an 84-82 win. The Blue Devils had a chance to tie or win the game on the final possession, but Smith stole the ball from fellow projected lottery pick Jayson Tatum and ran the full length of the court to secure the win. The final buzzer sounded while Smith was racing upcourt, but he slam-dunked the ball anyway to put an exclamation point on NC State’s hard-fought, long-overdue win in Durham.

Scouting Report

Possessions Scouted from 2016-17 Season:
OFFENSE: 20.3 percent of possessions
DEFENSE: 20.1 percent of possessions

Dennis Smith Jr. is a downhill point guard who is a fantastic scorer around the basket. He showcases strong instincts on drives, plays with a low center of gravity as he turns the corner around screens, and has great lift around the hoop. He has good shooting mechanics and I trust that he will become much more accurate in the pros once coaches help him to clean up his shot selection. Smith finishes at a high level with both hands in the paint and absorbs body contact as well as any downhill player in this draft. Those are great talents to work off of. However, he does not show great promise as a passer. Smith lacks great vision; he doesn’t see many passes that quality passers would see. He also lacks precision with his passes and is not a great decision maker. Those qualities result in a turnover-prone point guard. Smith has post-up potential with his strong build. He reminds me of a bigger Kyle Lowry. He struggles defensively with effort and attention. Those are his biggest issues, combined with poor routes while chasing screens, but all of those be resolved through teaching. His reaction times can be poor, which is a red flag. He, at times, showcases good feet and hands and instincts. He needs to play in a better defensive stance with a lower center of gravity. He’s usually in the right place at the right time when he does give effort and pays attention. Some of Smith’s best games came against NC State’s best competition, and he’s not afraid of the moment. Overall, he is a prospect that can immediately contribute with his ability to attack defenses, but coaching will be imperative to his long-term success. He has a lot of potential that remains to be fulfilled.


Dennis Cliff Smith Jr. was born Nov. 25, 1997 in Godwin, North Carolina to Dennis Smith Sr. and Helena Posia Owens. He grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he attended Trinity Christian School. During his sophomore season, Smith averaged 17.6 points, 9.3 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game, all while leading the Crusaders to a state title. The following season, he averaged 21.8 PPG and earned North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year honors. His most notable performance came during the 2014-15 High School OT holiday invitational when he logged 38 points against an Orangeville Prep team that featured future NBA players Jamal Murray and Thon Maker. Heading into his senior year, Smith was the favorite to repeat as the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, but on Aug. 7 he tore his ACL while competing at adidas Nations. One month after suffering the season-ending injury, Smith committed to NC State. He ended up graduating from high school a semester early, and enrolled in classes at NC State in January 2016. Smith fully recovered from his injury by the fall of 2016 and didn’t miss a game for the Wolfpack. As a freshman, he finished eighth in the ACC in scoring (18.1 PPG), first in assists (6.2 APG) and second in steals (1.9 SPG). His most notable performance came against No. 17 Duke on Jan. 23, 2017, when he logged a career-high 32 points to go along with six assists and four rebounds during an 84-82 Wolfpack win. He snagged the game-winning steal away from fellow projected lottery pick Jayson Tatum during the closing seconds, which secured NC State’s first win at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995. Smith also logged two triple doubles – a 27-point, 11-rebound, 11-assist performance during a 104-78 win over No. 21 Virginia Tech and a 13-point, 15-assist, 11-rebound effort during a 100-93 overtime loss to Syracuse. He became the only player in ACC history to log multiple career triple-doubles against conference foes. The Wolfpack lost in the opening round of their conference tournament to Clemson and did not make the NCAA Tourney, but Smith walked away from his freshman season with ACC Rookie of the Year honors. On March 28, 2017 Smith declared for the NBA Draft.