With 49 games under our belt this season, I believe we’ve seen enough of this seasons point guard group and compare them to the 2018-2019 squad. How have Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina improved from last season?
After coming over in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, Dennis Smith Jr. was balling out for the Knicks. In 21 games, the point guard averaged 14.7 points, 5.4 assist, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals a game. Everything was going right for Dennis Smith Jr. He dunked over J.Cole in the dunk contest and got a shout out on 21 Savages Grammy winning song, “A lot.” What could go wrong for Dennis Smith Jr.?
The answer is a lot. A whole lot can go wrong. This season, Dennis Smith Jr. has taken a giant step back in his development. Injuries have held Smith out of the line up most nights, but when Dennis Smith Jr. has suited up he’s dissapointed.
This season, Smith has averaged 5 points, 2.6 assists, 2.3 rebounds while shooting 32% from the field and 29% from deep. Yikes.
Unlike Dennis Smith Jr., the 2018-2019 season was not kind to Frank Ntilikina. In his rookie season, Ntilikina proved he had what it took to be an elite defender, but questions remain if he could ever develop on the offensive side of the floor. In his second-year, Ntilikina did not answer those questions.
The French point guard would average career lows in points, rebounds, assists, and steals, but his shooting percentages would suffer the most. Frank Ntilikina would go from a disappointing 36% from the field and 31% from three in his rookie season, to an even more disappointing 33% from the field and 29% from deep in 2018-2019.
This season, Ntilikina has raised his shooting percentages and is much more comfortable with the ball in his hands then he was in the past. Despite the improvements, Ntilikina is still a below average player on offense.
Emmanuel Mudiay took advantage of his time in New York. Mudiay would average 14.8 and 3.9 assists per game. Despite the impressive scoring figure it was apparent Mudiay was putting up empty numbers on a bad team by the 1 year 1.7 million dollar contract he signed with the Jazz in the off-season.