New York Knicks: Point guard power rankings after preseason opener

New York Knicks (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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27. . . . Dennis Smith Jr.. 2. player

Dennis Smith Jr. took the starting point guard role upon arrival in January when the New York Knicks acquired him from the Dallas Mavericks in the blockbuster Kristaps Porzingis trade. He held the role until a back injury arose; that and inconsistent play clouded his opportunity for the 2019-20 season.

Acquiring competition did not clear a path for Smith’s chances, either. He is young, at 21-years-old, but owns an impending team option for 2020-21, and this is not the definitive point guard of the future.

Also, trending against Smith, the missed preseason opener due to a strained lower back, which he shrugged off, put him behind for impressing the coaching staff, in-game. Instead, Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton handled the minutes.

The North Carolina State product, if healthy, has the second preseason game to return himself into the mix with a strong performance; he probably needs more than just Friday’s tilt with the Washington Wizards to stand out from the pack.

Either way, Smith should garner at least 20 minutes per game in a starter or reserve role, so missing on the former is not disastrous, but grasping the role to open the season makes it his to lose, and in a crucial third year, he needs it. If not, finding a third team may be in the cards.