After acquiring point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and a 2021 second-round pick (via Charlotte) for Derrick Rose, many Pistons fans are asking the same question: Will Dennis Smith Jr. revive his career in Detroit? The short answer is simple: maybe.
The former ninth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft from North Carolina State burst onto the NBA scene in his rookie campaign for the Dallas Mavericks, averaging 15.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists his rookie year. At 6’2″ 205 pounds and a 48 inch vertical, Smith Jr. once drew comparisons to Steve Francis, Baron Davis, and Derrick Rose due to his raw athleticism and ability to finish at the rim.
However, after playing only 101 games for Dallas, they shipped him to New York as the centerpiece of the Kristaps Porzingis trade in 2019. Since putting on the Knicks uniform, Smith Jr. has not been the same player. Part of this is due in part of the number of guards New York has had on the roster. Going into the 2020 offseason, New York already had Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, and Elfrid Payton at the point guard position. So what did they do? They drafted a point guard in Immanuel Quickley and signed two combo guards in Austin Rivers and Alec Burks. Smith simply fell out of the rotation. With that being said, Smith asked the Knicks front office to send him to the G-League so he could get some game action, just a few days ago.
With the Knicks sitting in the playoff picture and Derrick Rose agreeing that it was time to move on from Detroit, the Knicks made a move that benefited both sides. Now, Smith Jr. will have an opportunity to get valuable minutes in Detroit backing up Delon Wright, as first-round pick Killian Hayes continues to be sidelined with a hip injury.
Smith Jr. was far from productive in his minutes with New York. He has appeared in 37 games since the start of the 2019-20 season. In those 37 games, he averaged 4.3 points, 1.9 assists, and 1.5 rebounds in only 12.8 minutes a game. Now that he is in a different city playing for a different team, things could be on the up and up for Smith Jr. With Derrick Rose, Christian Wood, Jerami Grant, and Josh Jackson all looking like their careers have taken a turn for the better after finding newfound footing in Detroit, Smith Jr. could be the next player to blossom. At only 23 years old, Smith Jr. still has a lot left in his NBA career, and Pistons general manager Troy Weaver has already expressed his excitement in adding the 23-year-old saying:
Smith Jr. himself is excited for a new chapter of his career to start, taking to Twitter saying he is embracing the Detroit mentality:
“My first night here in Detroit, me and my girl stayed up watching the Bad Boys documentary. It was my 10th time watching it, but it was her first time.”
The question is posed again: Will Dennis Smith Jr. be able to revive his career with the Detroit Pistons? I’d say there is a decent chance. He has 49 games in a Pistons uniform this season to prove his worth. If it’s anything like the restoration of Josh Jackson this season, then the obvious answer will be yes. There is still plenty of raw, untapped potential left in the explosive point guard out of North Carolina State. It’s up to him and Dwane Casey to work together and unlock it.
Smith Jr. will wear the number zero for Detroit and will make his first appearance as a Piston Thursday against the Indiana Pacers.