Former NBA lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr. has largely failed to live up to the potential league decision-makers saw in him when he made the jump to the association following a standout season at North Carolina State. However, the 23-year-old clearly remains committed to proving himself at the highest level.
To that end, Smith has reportedly asked the New York Knicks to allow him to enter the G League bubble so he can showcase his skills, per the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy. According to Bondy's sources, the franchise is expected to honor that request.
Although he started several games at the point guard position immediately after the Knicks acquired him from the Dallas Mavericks in January 2019, his role and minutes have diminished significantly since that time. This year, he's failed to lock down a spot in head coach Tom Thibodeau's rotation, registering DNPs in nine straight games as of Saturday.
In total, he's logged just 28 total minutes over three appearances during the 2020-21 campaign.
As tracked by Basketball-Reference, he averaged 5.5 points and just under three assists in 16 minutes per contest in 2019-20. And while those numbers dwarf what he has been allowed to do in '20-21, they're a far cry from the aggregate 15-point, five-assist line he logged as a full-time starter and All-Rookie Second Team selection with the Mavericks.
The Westchester Knicks — New York's developmental affiliate squad — are slated to be one of the 18 teams that will participate in the G League's truncated season, which will be played in a bubble campus at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It's the same approach the association took to completing its campaign last summer amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
Although Smith hasn't been able to get off of the bench under Thibodeau, he'll be one of the more noteworthy players in the bubble. Consequently, he'll likely be given a chance to audition for teams around the association that he wouldn't have had access to otherwise.
Should he ultimately find his way to Orlando, by way of Westchester, the opportunity to play will have come at just the right time for Smith. The NBA trade deadline is right around the corner and, at the end of the season, his rookie-scale contract will reach its end.
His prospects in the Big Apple may be grim at the moment, but the former No. 9 overall pick could breathe new life into his once-promising career with a strong showing by impressing a new team.
As relayed previously by The Inquisitr, a trade idea from NBA Analysis Network has the Detroit Pistons acquiring Smith from the Knicks in exchange for Derrick Rose.