New York Knicks grades: Dennis Smith Jr. for 2018-19

New York Knicks Dennis Smith Jr. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks Dennis Smith Jr. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

When New York Knicks fans thought this season couldn’t get any worse, the “franchise” player demanded a trade, which ultimately landed Dennis Smith Jr., along with other players and future first-round draft picks.

It is still yet to be seen who won the trade between the New York Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks, as the result will be contingent upon this upcoming free agency period, and how Kristaps Porzingis recovers after missing more than a full season from a torn ACL. Amid the turmoil of this trade, the Knicks did receive two exciting pieces in DeAndre Jordan and Dennis Smith Jr., along with two first round picks.

The Knicks newly-acquired guard only played 21 games for the Knicks this season, which makes filling out his report card a more difficult task. But nonetheless, let us breakdown how his overall play ranked this season with the Knicks.

From that small sample size of games, Smith Jr. was able to put up 14.7 points per game, 5.4 assists per game, 2.8 rebounds per game and 1.3 steals per game. While this stat line seems exceptional for a second-year guard, it was his shooting and efficiency that hurt the Knicks.

The undeveloped three-point shot showed for the young guard as he was only able to put up 28.9 percent of his three-point shots on four attempts a game. On top of that, we need to see a lot of improvement with his 56.8 percent free throw percentage, which dropped from 69.5 percent when he was with the Mavericks this season. But what’s really interesting about Smith Jr.’s overall shot is the IQ in his shot selection.

The majority of Smith Jr.’s shots came from less than five feet from the basket where he completed 56.4 percent of his shots. The second most attempted shots came from 25-29 feet from the basket, where he completed 30.8 percent of those shot attempts. These stats are gathered from the whole season, but still show that he has some flaws in his overall shot selection.

While the three-point shot has become one of the most important factors to today’s NBA game, the high-flying guard needs to focus on his mid-range shot before extending beyond the three-point line. We may see more efficiency out there by minimizing the three-point shots and using his athleticism inside to create space to create smarter shot opportunities.

Aside from that, the former lottery pick was a highlight reel waiting to happen with his coveted speed and vertical, making for some exciting dunks.

As for his passing, Smith Jr. saw a career high in assists per game, which is nice to see, but is still under a small sample size. His assist to turnover rate was below average for a point guard in 2019; Smith Jr.’s 2.07 assists to turnovers did not rank in the top 100 players in this category, according to

Looking at his defensive performance on the Knicks and Mavericks, there is still a room for improvement, which seems to be the common theme for Smith Jr. In the paint, Smith Jr.’s defense was what you expect from a young guard adjusting to the talent and size in the NBA. What was impressive in my mind was his defense beyond 15 feet, where he only allowed 36.5 percent of his opponents shots to drop. Lastly, his perimeter defense was exceptional allowing 34.7 percent beyond the arc.

B-. . PG. New York Knicks. DENNIS SMITH JR.

Overall, Dennis Smith Jr. receives a B- with his season with the Knicks. His Knicks’ career has been short, but even with that small sample size, there were flashes of improvements. We have a player under a low-risk rookie contract with the potential to improve and make a real impact on the court.