Dennis Smith Jr. has gained momentum these past few months, as he has made headlines with his abnormal athleticism. He recently had a workout that was highlighted by a 48″ vertical. He has a 6’1″ frame with decent shooting ability that can be developed fairly easily.
During his single year as a member of the NC State Wolfpack, Smith never missed a game and averaged 35 minutes in each one, along with 18.1 points, 6.2 assists, and 4.6 rebounds; all above average for starting freshman guards. He also shot 45.8% from the field, and 35.9% from deep. These percentages show that the potential of a good shooting stroke later is easy for a team in the middle of the lottery to buy into.
In terms of his physical traits, Smith has an 8’1″ standing reach. When that measurement is mixed with his max vertical of 48 inches, a mid-lottery team will get a really good ball handler as well as a player that can finish above the rim and grab rebounds if necessary. His 6’3″ wingspan displays his average dimensions. However, his leaping ability allows him to be an X factor and an explosive playmaker. Seen with his stats, Smith is a very capable scorer, as well as being a very talented passer.
As far as his weaknesses go, Smith is not very vocal in terms of leadership ability. This skill is very important, espescially for a player that will lead his team on both ends of the floor. Smith also has a tendency where he trusts his abilities on possessions too much, not passing the ball and just settling for shots off the dribble. Smith is also wildly inconsistent, as he had ten games where he made at least 3 three pointers, but nine games where he didn’t make a single shot from beyond the arc.
Smith is projected to be selected around picks 6-9. At pick 6, Orlando could snag a ball handler to build a franchise around. Same with Minnesota at pick 7, the Knicks at pick 8, or even Dallas at pick 9. All of these teams will look for a ball handler come June 22, and Smith is a great fit for all.
As far as a pro comparison, he is very similar well to Kemba Walker, who also had to develop a solid outside shot. Kemba has a similar 6’1″ frame as well as a great passer, finding players for catch and shoot opportunities. Kemba has also turned into a face of a franchise, which is what the four teams previously mentioned will be looking for on Thursday.