NBA Draft Profile: Dennis Smith Jr.

N.C. State’s Dennis Smith Jr. (4) reacts following a basket against Duke during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. North Carolina State won 84-82. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

The kid with the plain name and extraordinary game has everything it takes to become a star in the NBA.

There will probably never be another Russell Westrbook, but if there is a new-generation beta version of him, Smith might be it. He’s got a baby-Westrbook-like motor, powerful hops, and Olympic champion-style athleticism.

Related: NBA Draft Profile: Lonzo Ball

Like Westbrook, he’s also thrown down some downright ostentatious dunks like these, and I mean, fair warning–don’t click on the previous link if you happen to be drinking something. You’ll spit it all over your keyboard.

For a little while during the season (specifically January 23), Smith looked like the best player in college basketball. That night, he hung 32 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in a 64-62 win over Duke, easily the ‘Pack’s best win of the year. Smith was clutch, knocking down big shot after big shot down the stretch and willing the Wolfpack to that ‘W’.

Things went south in Raleigh, but it had nothing to do with Smith, who simply didn’t have the pieces around him to have any kind of success playing in that gauntlet of a conference.

To his credit, Smith continued to show leadership with his teammates and play a solid point guard, even as the team sputtered to a 1-10 record after the Duke win.

Related: NBA Draft Profile: Jonathan Isaac

He’s not the best shooter in the world (35.9% from three), and can be shut down when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands. He needs to work on finding ways to get open without the rock, but both of those things will improve once he gets to the league.

Smith has good enough size (6-3, 195 pounds) for a point guard, but he’d be small for a 2, which is unfortunate because he’s got the athleticism and scoring instinct to excel at that position.

He suffered a knee injury in high school, which had many scouts worried, but he was back to his old self last year at State, and looks to be fully healthy going forward.

He’s got tremendous court vision (biocentric, even) and has a chance to grow into an outstanding point guard. We love Smith’s game, and we think he’s got the potential to be an All-Star at the next level.

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