NBA Draft 2017 Prospect Watch: Dennis Smith Jr

Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports /


Smith can get to the rim easily and explode for highlight reel dunks, but can he shoot?

He is not a knock down three-point shooter by any means, but in one season at NC State he did shoot 35.9 percent. Markelle Fultz (41.3 percent), Lonzo Ball (41.2 percent), De’Aaron Fox ( 24.6 percent), Frank Ntilikina (43.1 percent) are all considered top point guards in the 2017 NBA Draft as comparison.

Smith’s shot is respectable, but he will be tested to make three-point field goals in the NBA. I’m not a shot doctor nor do I play one on TV, but one of the issues with Smith is his inconsistent mechanics. For example, when you watch his shot, you can observe his feet never land in the same spot.

Also, as was noted in Draft Express’ weaknesses video, Smith has different elevations on his jump shot. It sounds simple, but the mechanics — whether it’s follow through, footwork, or elevation — need to be the exact same every time.

When I watched Smith in the ACC and on highlights, I couldn’t help but think he was still playing AAU ball. What I mean by that is the coaching staff at NC State — who were since fired — just rolled out the balls and let the guys play rather than coaching and teaching more structured play. This leads to Smith looking more like a playmaker than a point guard who can lead the offense and his team to victory.

With the Wolfpack going 13-15, and their coach getting fired before the season was even over, all of that can have a factor on a player’s season and the level of focus they have for the game. This potentially hurt Smith in the NBA draft, and is one of the reasons he is not being talked about as much as De’Aaron Fox, who had the opportunity to battle in the NCAA tourney and play better than Lonzo Ball heads up.

As scouts and GMs watch more tape they will see one of the most talented players in this year’s NBA draft. They may also see a player who needs the ball in his hands and tries to do too much, a player who can be careless and disinterested. The question will come down to if Smith can lead an NBA team and that may be something that is missing at this point.