What will Dennis Smith Jr’s role be with the Detroit Pistons?
Once Smith has cleared Covid protocols, expect him to take Rose’s spot as the second team’s point guard. There actually shouldn’t be too much of an adjustment going from Rose to Smith as their play styles are relatively similar.
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Smith is essentially a less efficient Derrick Rose as both are score-first guards who love to get to the rim. They both are not natural passers but can drive and kick out to open shooters. Smith will also need to take over Rose’s role as a shot creator, which Smith is well versed in all the way back to his days at NC State.
Smith should provide an upgrade in transition over Rose. The expected second team of Smith, Svi Mykhailuk, Josh Jackson, Sekou Doumbouya, and Isiah Stewart should thrive in transition situations.
With the amount of athleticism and hustle in the lineup, they should be looking to get out in transition every chance they can. Getting out in transition will lead to easy points, which will be necessary with the lineup’s lack of shot creation.
If Killian Hayes returns this year, it could end up forcing Smith out of the lineup depending on how well he plays. If Wayne Ellington continues to shoot lights out, he could be moved by the deadline, allowing Smith and Hayes to get all the point guard minutes with Delon Wright and Svi playing with them.
Or if Smith plays well, the Detroit Pistons could split the point guard minutes between him and Hayes and bench or buyout Ellington as the Pistons play to the future. All of this is too early to guess what the Pistons are doing, and there is a decent chance Hayes doesn’t even return this year, but it will be something to monitor if Hayes’ checkup goes well.
Smith is an intriguing reclamation problem. He is only 23 years old and has the pedigree of being a 5-star recruit and a top 10 pick with incredible natural gifts. On top of that, he’s actually had two seasons of being a productive NBA player. On the other hand, last season, he was unplayable with putrid shooting numbers and lost his rotation spot this season.
For the Detroit Pistons, this is a calculated risk. If it works out, Smith could be a valuable addition to the Pistons young nucleus.
Smith could need a change of scenery and the right opportunity to grow as a player. If it doesn’t work out, the Pistons aren’t losing much. Smith was essentially a throw-in for the Rose trade and is on an expiring deal, so the Pistons’ risk is minimal.
Plus, the Detroit Pistons have no intention of winning this year, so if he plays poorly, it would actually help the Pistons’ secure a top pick. Either way, it was a smart move for the Pistons to add another high upside player with virtually no downside.