David Fizdale expects Dennis Smith Jr. to work for starting spot in Knicks’ final 2 preseason games
Dennis Smith Jr. has shown a lot of potential in his first two years in the league. The former ninth overall pick averaged 14.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.3 steals in 21 games for the New York last season.
However, as the team enters an all-important season where they will look to prove themselves to the rest of the league, head coach David Fizdale wants DSJ to be at his best.
Fizdale hinted that Smith isn’t assured of getting the starting point guard spot for the Knicks. He told Ian Begley of SNY TV that the 21-year-old guard will have to earn it by playing well in their final two preseason games.
“He put in so much work this summer and I don’t think it’s fair for him to keep the same eyes from last year on him. We want to get a fresh set of eyes. He had a heck of a camp up to the point where he got sprained.”
DSJ missed the Knicks’ first two preseason exhibitions, but he’s expected to suit up against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday and against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday. New York will open the 2019-20 season against the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 23.
Everyone on the Knicks roster is pretty confident they have what it takes to be competitive this season. Fizdale knows this, which is why he wants every member of the team to work hard for their minutes, including DSJ.
The team has Elfrid Payton, who was impressive for the Pelicans last season, and Frank Ntilikina, who played well in the FIBA World Cup this summer. Any of those guys can take away Smith’s minutes.
Now, it is up to him to prove that he deserves to be in the Knicks’ starting point guard.