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LeBron James on Dennis Smith Jr. of Dallas Mavericks: 'He should be a Knick'

LeBron James called Shabazz Napier his favorite player in the 2014 Draft, shortly before leaving the Miami Heat, who traded two second round picks to get their best player’s favorite player. So, the New York Knicks shouldn’t take James’ 2017 Draft evaluation too seriously.

Still, just two days before James plays his first game of the season at Madison Square Garden, James said the Knicks made a mistake by drafting Frank Ntilikina over Dennis Smith Jr., who scored 21 points (nine in the fourth quarter) and dished out seven assists for the Dallas Mavericks against James’ Cavs on Saturday.

ESPN‘s Tim MacMahon was in Dallas:

LeBron James unleashed what could be considered one final shot at Phil Jackson, declaring that Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. “should be a Knick.”

The New York Knicks decided to pass on Smith with what ended up being the final draft pick of Jackson’s tenure as New York’s team president, selecting French point guard Frank Ntilikina eighth overall, one pick before Dallas took Smith.

“The Knicks passed on a really good one, and Dallas got the diamond in the rough,” James said after his Cleveland Cavaliers’ 111-104 win Saturday night over the Mavericks. “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.”

The 7-5 Knicks are pretty happy with Ntilikina thus far, though. He hasn’t scored half of Smith’s 21 points in any game thus far, but has had good chemistry with Kristaps Porzingis and has shown an ability to be disruptive defensively. The rookie from France has the team’s best on-court NetRtg, with the Knicks having been better both offensively and defensively with him on the floor.