Drafting Dennis Smith Jr. Could Help Aid the Lottery Frefalling Knicks 1
Jan 8, 2017; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) warms up before the game at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

After losing a coin flip to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the New York Knicks now have the seventh-best chance at winning the NBA lottery. However, despite their chances of winning the NBA lottery being reduced, drafting point guard Dennis Smith Jr. would still give the club a franchise point guard.

After losing a coin flip to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the New York Knicks now have the seventh best odds of winning the NBA lottery. Based on the fact that the 2016-17 season was an embarrassing and unsuccessful campaign, having little to no chance of getting into the top five is a major setback for the Knicks. However, if they do draft in the seven spot, N.C. State point guard Dennis Smith Jr. could help aid their lottery woes.

After a long year full of pain and sorrow, the Knicks envision getting some new faces in and some key faces out of New York, such as forward Carmelo Anthony.

With president Phil Jackson and the Knicks looking to move Anthony via trade, the franchise is looking to begin building around Kristaps Porzingis. That makes this draft crucial for the Knicks. They have to select a player who can a part of the franchise for the long haul.

While chances are they won’t get a top five pick, the Knicks can still go out and get their point guard of the future in this year’s draft. A big part of that though is dependent on them letting Derrick Rose walk in free agency.

With Rose hitting free agency this summer, the Knicks could have a massive hole to fill in their backcourt (assuming Rose isn’t resigned). The dilemma though is that Rose is said to have an interest in staying with the Knicks. The Knicks though may opt to get younger and add some fresher legs at the position. If that’s ultimately the case, then drafting a point guard would be the way to go, especially given the draft position the Knicks will likely possess.

Given that they’re in the seven spot, top forwards such as Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, and possibly Johnathan Issac will be taken before the Knicks select. Kentucky guards D’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk may also not be available when they select. However, in what is a very deep draft, the Knicks can still find themselves a franchise player. Enter point guard

Enter point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

The NC State product has declared for the NBA Draft, after an impressive freshman season.

Playing a whopping 34.8 minutes per game, Smith averaged 18.1 points and 6.2 assists a game. Despite the heavy load in regards to playing time, Smith showed the ability to carry the scoring load,and play above the rim. He also showed a willingness to play on the defensive end.

Mar 29, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks power forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) dunks over Miami Heat shooting guard Josh Richardson (0) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Averaging 1.9 steals, and racking in 4.6 rebounds a game, Smith showed up night in and night out on the defensive end in his rookie season. Given his presence on the defensive end, as well as his offensive impact, Smith would be a great long-term asset for the Knicks. He’d also benefit Porzingis’ play on the offensive end.

While the Knicks have had the half-court, slow system of spacing referred to as the triangle offense forced upon them the past two years, drafting Smith could potentially put that offense in the dirt.

Based on the fact hat Smith is a run and gun, scoring guard, he’d fit right in with Porzingis. With Porzingis being a player who likes to get out and run, Smith and himself could run the fast break to success. Their ability to do so could throw off the Knicks offense half-court offensive philosophy. The one weakness with Smith’s game though is that he turns the ball over.

Last year, he averaged 3.4 turnovers a game. While he’s still young, and that number isn’t horrendous, Smith will need to limit the number of turnovers in the NBA. That doesn’t take away from the player he is though.

With Smith being a two-way threat and having the ability to carry the scoring load, he could do wonders for the Knicks long-term. Drafting a guard like Smith also guarantees the Knicks a legit starting point guard for the 2017-18 season.

With the 2017 NBA draft being a very deep class, there is a number of talented college stars for the Knicks to choose from, even if they pick at seven. The point guard position though is the most stacked one in this class. With Washington’s Markelle Fultz, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, French guard Frank Nitilikina and Smith all entering the draft, there are a number of promising players for NBA teams to select to help run their offense’s. Free agency though, while point guard heavy, may not offer that same luxury, which makes drafting a point guard make even more sense for the Knicks.

In addition to Rose, there a bevy of point guards hitting the open market this summer, headlined by Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Kyle Lowry. The Knicks though likely have little to no shot at landing either one of them, given their inability to compete. The same could potentially go for the second tier of free agent point guards.

After the big three, George Hill, Jrue Holiday and Jeff Teague are the next in line to receive big pay days. The Knicks though may not be able to get either one to ink a deal.

With Hill breaking out for the Jazz, he may opt to stay with them, in hopes of building something special in Salt Lake City. With Holiday, Jackson and the Knicks may have to break the bank and potentially all of their cap room in an attempt to sign him; a signing that may not be worth it. In Teague’s case, he’s a proven player, but much like Holiday may look to break the bank in its entirety. With that in mind, drafting Smith makes a lot of sense, given that he’d be on a rookie deal, as opposed to a 20+ million a year deal.

While the disaster of a season that’s been the 2016-17 year has taken another hit by losing an important coin flip, in regards to drafting position, the Knicks can prevail by selecting Dennis Smith Jr. – if they’re given the seventh pick in the NBA Draft. Drafting Smith would give the Knicks a two-way player, who could potentially pan out to be a long-term sidekick for Porzingis, and a franchise player for the Knicks.

Robbie Stratakos is a New York Knicks/Giants Beat Writer for Elite Sports NY (ESNY); he also covers the NBA nationally. He previously wrote at Last Word On Pro Basketball and Empire Writes Back. In addition to writing for ESNY, Robbie is an MLB columnist at Baseball Essential. He previously wrote at HardBallScoop - part of Scout/CBS Interactive/247Sports, Last Word On Baseball and District On Deck. He is attending Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York. Follow him on twitter @RPStratakos