The pick is the main part of the return as the upcoming draft is one of the deepest in recent history, and the Hornets aren’t lighting the league on fire by any means at this point of the year. However, Dennis Smith Jr is only four years removed from being a top 10 pick and is still only 23 years old.
Smith entered the league out of NC State after his freshman year. At the time, he was considered an incredibly athletic point guard who excelled at getting to the rim and creating his own shot. He still needed to develop as a passer and learn to run an offense.
His defense was inconsistent, but when he locked in, he had all the tools to be a good defender. Overall, Smith Jr definitely needed to grow, but he was expected to score from the start.
His scouting report looked accurate as he averaged 15 points and 5 assists a game from the start. This was enough to earn a spot on the All-Rookie second team. After that, he was traded to the Knicks in the Porzingis trade and started off well with the Knicks.
His scoring took a slight dip but improved his shooting splits across the board despite struggling with back and wrist injuries. Unfortunately for Smith Jr, his third season was basically a disaster. He lost his stepmother and struggled with injuries again, resulting in him only playing 34 games.
When he was playing, he struggled to shoot, only shooting 34% from the floor and scoring 5 points a game. Smith’s struggles carried over to this preseason, and Smith was unable to crack the rotation; ultimately, Smith requested to go to the G League to get playing time before he was traded.