Under new management, the New York Knicks are headed down a different path than in recent years. Of course, focusing on the youth agenda is a priority, but sparking some of their talented players will be a challenging task for new head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Thibodeau was enamored by point guard Dennis Smith Jr. when he was drafted, but since entering the NBA, he has struggled immensely. With some of the most athletic traits you could ask for in a basketball player, he has not lived up to his potential so far. Averaging 15.2 points per game in his rookie season with the Dallas Mavericks, he hasn’t broken that benchmark since.
Last year with the Knicks, he averaged 5.5 points per game and 15.8 minutes, seeing his impact drop off considerably. His lack of defense and offensive capabilities have been extremely limiting, but the Knicks will try to turn around his performance in recent years, unlocking the potential he undoubtedly holds.
Smith understands that things must change if he wishes to continue growing in the NBA, so he’s taking a superstitious approach toward his revolution. New York Post NBA reporter Marc Berman stated that Smith is looking to change his number, in hopes of sparking the potential he once had entering the league.
After selecting the number five, he’s reverting back to number four, which he utilized in college. During his only collegiate campaign, he averaged 18 points, six assists, five rebounds, and two steals per game. He shot 45% from the field and 36% from three. Those stats have only degraded, and hopefully, this change number can spark confidence that simply doesn’t exist in him right now. Smith is only 22 years old, meaning his physical prime is still readily available.
Bringing in new player development coaches and a system that could benefit him, Smith will be looking to pick up where he left off in college. This is the second time he’s changed his jersey number since entering the NBA, but this one has a bit more sentimentality.
Of course, there is still a possibility that the Knicks go out and draft LaMelo Ball to fill the point guard spot, which would put Dennis Smith Jr. in a back-up role permanently. The direction of the draft for the Knicks is up in the air, and Smith is running out of time to solidify his spot on the team.