New York Knicks: 6 players who have smaller or lost roles from last season

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Dennis Smith Jr.

For the case of Dennis Smith Jr., he missed seven games due to a death in the family, leaving his appearance total at eight in the 15 games the New York Knicks have played in 2019-20. Still, his role is far off from 2018-19, post-Kristaps Porzingis trade in January.

Smith Jr. has averaged a career-low 14.4 minutes per game compared to 28.6 with the Knicks last season. He lost most of that time to Elfrid Payton in the beginning and to Frank Ntilikina, who has emerged as the starting point guard, ever since. For now, it has no sign of returning to the old mark.

In these eight games, the North Carolina State product has just 4.9 points, 2.0 assists and a 34.1 shooting percentage. These developed with fewer minutes, of course, but he also struggles defensively and has a handful of low-scoring, high-foul games with little impact.

With Ntilikina now shooting 40 percent, over 34 percent on three-pointers, playing great defense and off a 17-point game against the Philadelphia 76ers, it puts Smith Jr. another step behind. If Fizdale wants Payton in a role upon return from injury, that will only hurt his case to maintain an on-court role, especially if he cannot string consistent performances.

As seen with Fizdale’s rotations, everything changes by the game so Smith Jr. could find a larger role at some point. For now, that does not seem to be the case.