NY Knicks: 4 Players who could make or break the 2020-21 season

New York Knicks Dennis Smith Jr. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Dennis Smith Jr. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Jan 8, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (5) warms up prior to a game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

2) Knicks Make or Break Player: Dennis Smith Jr.

The Knicks disappointed in many ways last season, with one of the clearest examples being the play of Dennis Smith Jr. seemingly falling off a cliff after many expected him to break out as a rising star. After averaging 14.5 points, 5.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game on 41% shooting throughout his first two NBA seasons, his production plummeted.

The 23-year old averaged 5.5 points and 2.9 assists in just 34 appearances while shooting an abysmal 34% from the field. A preseason back injury likely affected his numbers, but the drop off in play is still astounding.

After going through an extended offseason without any injury setbacks, Smith Jr. needs to prove that last year was a fluke and that he can get his career back on track.

The main hope for him is that his primary skill can be easily utilized by the team. That ability happens to be his otherworldly athleticism, as the 6’2″ point guard has thrown down some highlight-reel dunks when healthy. He uses bursts of speed to attack the basket before leaping up to finish over any defenders in the paint.

Tom Thibodeau clearly has a soft spot for athletic guards who can get to the rim, building a powerhouse around former MVP Derrick Rose in Chicago. While Dennis Smith Jr. is nowhere near the level that Rose was at, he can still perform well enough to earn the job of starting point guard.

The Knicks have been looking for their long-term answer at point guard for the past two decades and Smith Jr. has a chance to capture that title if he can return to his immense potential that he showed two seasons ago.