Leading up to the NBA Draft we will be analyzing scouting reports for various players who have entered their name in this year’s NBA Draft. The focus of these articles will be on prospects who we find most intriguing and feel readers need to become more familiar with. Please let us know if you want any players specifically @edupridepress. All stats and videos are via KenPom, ESPN, DraftExpress, and YouTube.
Dennis Smith Jr.
PG NC State
Weight: 195 lbs
Projected: 10 (CPP Big Board) 9 (CPP Mock Draft)
Background: Dennis Smith was a top recruit in high school that followed the new trend of turning down the tradition blue bloods with his college choice. The versatile point guard committed to NC State where his one season was full of ups and downs. Fellow top ranked recruit Omer Yurtseven struggled in his move to the United States leaving Smith with all of the pressure. Smith delivered with a huge seasons averaging 20 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds per game. Smith’s stats were impressive but the team underachieved and failed to make the NCAA Tournament. Dennis Smith also caused some controversy as he seemed to check out of some games and disinterested in many games. This will be a concern that NBA teams will look at as they build their draft board. Smith came into college being considered a Top 5 pick in this years draft but with some character concerns and seeing him play a full season in the ACC he seems likely to be a late lottery pick. The incredible upside is still evident when watching Smith play.
Strengths: Dennis Smith is one of the best athletes in this draft class. Athleticism does not always ensure greatness but Smith Jr. has Russell Westbrook athleticism. Smith can get to rim at any time and is fearless in the paint. Dennis Smith played in a conference that saw him face multiple future NBA big men and shot blockers but it did not bother him. Smith’s jump shot is much more developed than many believed coming out of high school. He shot 36% from deep. There point shooting will never be a strength but as Smith develops that facet of his game will need to be respected by opponents. Smith has the upside to be a number one option on a team if he can add some polish to his game and improve his jump shot. The greatest moment of Smith’s college career is when he dominated the Duke Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor.
Weaknesses: The only thing that is holding Dennis Smith Jr. back is himself. He has always had tremdous upside but the inconsistent stats and effort during his lone college season will be puzzling to NBA teams. His issues could be the product of a poorly run program at NC State that saw multiple transfers and Coach Mark Gottfried fired after the season or they could be a problem with Dennis Smith that could continue at the next level. Smith on court performance was also very inconsistent. He had games where we would be the leading scorer and also games where he would be help to single digits in the scoring column. This is not a question of defense as he had 27 points against UNC in one game and then 11 points the second matchup against the Tar Heels.
Comparison: Floor-Kris Dunn Ceiling-Russell Westbrook
The comparisons are extremely hard as we get into the younger less developed players. Smith could be another athlete that shows promise or he could develop into a generational talent like Westbrook. The athleticism is there but his development is the key. I struggled to find a floor comparison for Smith as his predicament with some consistency issues in college but his upside is obviously very high as Westbrook is the most explosive player in the league.
Be sure to check out our other Top 30 Breakdowns and NBA Draft Charts: