Dennis Smith Jr. addresses inconsistent playing time
New York Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. opened up about his lack of playing time in a recent interview with Basketball Insiders.
Smith’s story is an interesting one. Drafted with the 9th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, the former NC State standout was on his way to being part of the Dallas Mavericks’ future. Now, though, he’s serving as a reserve for the Knicks.
He’s dealt with injury, personal tragedy and limited playing time, but Smith is trying to remain focused:
“I’m thinking exactly what you’re thinking,” Smith Jr. told Basketball Insiders. “I had a good rookie year. Sophomore year was solid, too. I played well when I got here last year. Now to have things going the way they are…You just can’t dwell on it – positive or negative. You can’t change it. All I can do is focus on the right now.”
Smith is right about his rookie season. He turned in averages of 15.2 points and 5.2 assists in that campaign, posting several highlights along the way.
Things have since changed.
The Knicks acquired Smith on Feb. 1, 2019, as part of a deal that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavs. Smith played well in New York at first, though he did miss some time due to a back injury. In his — appearances this season, however, he’s averaging just 5.5 points on 34.0 percent shooting from the field and 3.0 assists. Notably, he’s currently holding a 29.6 percent mark from beyond the arc.
“It’s been tough on me for a while,” Smith Jr. explained. “I’m just looking for an opportunity. Even if my minutes are limited, I can’t worry about going out there and worry about trying to play perfect. It’s hard to do, especially when your time is cut. It’s something I gotta get better at. It’s just another challenge.”
Though he’s struggling to find a niche with the Knicks, Smith says he’s going to keep pushing:
“But I’ve had a lot of challenges in my life, whether it’s basketball or not. And I ain’t never quit at nothing. I’m gonna keep pushing. Like I always say, my faith in myself is always high.”
“I’m still only 22 – but I understand how important the mental part of the game is,” Smith Jr. told Basketball Insiders. “And I’ve been working at that, at staying positive and waiting for my chance.”
Opportunities may be sparse for Smith as this season plays on, but he’ll be looking to make the most of each one.