Long-regarded as a potential top five prospect during his high school years, Smith is the most physically explosive guard in the draft, and in the right situation, could very well outplay his draft slot due to his immense natural talent. Strong, explosive guards who can score at all three levels like Smith on't grow on trees, and have proven very valuable in a ball screen-heavy, well-spaced NBA game. An improved shooter, powerful penetrator, and explosive leaper, Smith can go get you a bucket late clock. Averaging 18.1 points per game as a freshman in the ACC is no easy feat.
For Smith, fit is very important, as we saw what a less than stellar situation can lead to at N.C. State (a 15-17 season and a fired coaching staff, to be clear). From a basketball standpoint, Smith is best with a spaced floor as his ball screen scoring is his most appealing skill. Being surrounded by feel guys' who can also handle it is key for Smith, because he has a tendency to over dribble at times, and his pure point guard skills (game management, knowing which mouths to feed) are still developing. Being able to focus on scoring out of the pick and roll while playing next to high IQ veterans will help soften the burden of running an NBA team at age 19.
From a personality standpoint, Smith is best surrounded by accomplished veterans and a coach that he respects. He was detached at N.C. State, and wasn't held accountable on the defensive end. His season in Raleigh served as merely a pit stop to the NBA, and the lack of camaraderie on that Wolfpack team was apparent.
Although a team like the Knicks could sorely use his shot creation, his less than stellar defensive habits and ball-dominant style would likely continue to worsen for an organization that is lacking veteran leadership and stability on the coaching staff and front office. For Smith's sake, like Monk, he'd be much better off landing in a place like Dallas, which has strong ownership, an accomplished head coach in Carlisle, and veterans like Dirk Nowitzki and Wesley Matthews to learn from. If Smith lands in the wrong spot, his NBA career could look a lot like that lone season at N.C. State -- big statistical games in lopsided losses, but with a strong infrastructure in place, his talent could very well be maximized, turning into that top five caliber prospect we saw at the high school level.
Scouting Report by Jonathan Givony. Video Analysis by Mike Schmitz
Fifteen months removed from tearing his ACL, Dennis Smith started what would become an uneven freshman campaign at N.C. State. He mixed extreme highs, with some bafflingly lackluster showings, resulting in his head coach being fired, and somewhat of a bad taste left in the mouths of Wolfpack fans.
Smith was nevertheless named ACC Rookie of the Year, as well as a Second Team All-Conference player, on the strength of his outstanding production, at 20.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 2.2 steals per-40 minutes pace-adjusted. His powerful frame, mixed with his explosive speed and leaping ability, created plenty of highlights in the ACC, and give him a tremendous framework to build off physically looking towards the NBA level.
Here's a closer look at the strengths Smith displayed throughout his time at N.C. State:
Smith is a nightmare in the open court, changing gears powerfully and being absolutely fearless slashing right to the front of the rim, where he can finish emphatically above the rim, or acrobatically off the glass. He has an excellent first step from a stand-still as well, getting low to the ground, and will often split ball-screens impressively, with a tight handle, excellent footwork, and the ability to take contact at the rim. Smith wasn't especially efficient from the field (50% 2P%), but made up for that at the college level with his ability to get to the free throw line at a strong clip, a product of his aggressiveness with the ball, and willingness to drive into the teeth of the defense to draw fouls.
In the half-court, Smith shows promise with his first step, array of fancy ball-handling maneuvers, and an innate ability to operate at different speeds. He wasn't in an ideal situation at N.C. State, being surrounded by three non-shooters almost at all times, in traditional two-big men lineups that clogged the paint and made his team easy to game-plan against. Nevertheless, he posted a solid 6.8 assists per-40 pace adjusted, the fourth best rate in our Top-100, as he is capable of creating space, surveying the floor and passing the ball with either hand out of pick and roll situations, sometimes in very impressive fashion.
Here's a closer look at the weaknesses Smith displayed throughout his time at N.C. State:
With that said, Smith still has plenty of work to do to become a more consistent floor general in terms of his mentality and decision making. He is not very vocal on the floor in terms of his on-court leadership, and the chemistry and body language he demonstrated with teammates left a lot to be desired, especially as the season moved on.
Smith is still figuring out how to effectively blend his scoring and passing ability, as he can be a bit of a ball-stopper at times, dribbling the air out of the ball and settling for long 2-pointers off the dribble before any of his teammates even get a touch. N.C. State's offense didn't look very smooth with him at the helm, as he can be a bit predictable at times with his approach, not always being a willing passer, and killing his dribble unnecessarily too frequently, leading to careless turnovers. While the lack of coaching and poorly-suited roster around him were definitely mitigating factors to consider, there's no doubt that Smith played a major role in his team's inability to win games and overall dysfunction.
Smith's jump-shot is something NBA teams will want to scrutinize more closely in private settings, to get a better read on how it might translate to the pro level. On one hand, he improved his 3-point percentages this season, making 36% of his attempts, many of them coming while pulling off the dribble and from well beyond the NBA line. He is a shot-maker who you can't necessarily go underneath screens on consistently with confidence, but was wildly inconsistent in this area as a freshman, having ten games in which he made between three to five three-pointers, and nine games in which he couldn't connect on a single attempt.
While Smith has clearly progressed with his jumper, getting red-hot at times and making a barrage of difficult attempts, there are still question marks about this part of his game, as he's only converted 32% of his career 349 attempts in games we have in our database. He is a very jump-reliant shooter, often holding onto the ball too long, and shooting on his way down. He connected on just 71% of his free attempts this season, and is a career 72% from the charity stripe (511 attempts).
Scouts also have question marks about Smith's defense, specifically the role he played in N.C. State ranking dead last in the ACC in this category. There's no doubt that Smith has the physical tools to be very good on this end of the floor if he wants to be, with his strong frame, quick feet, and solid anticipation skills that allowed him to get in the passing lanes frequently. He'll show you flashes of that at times, heating up the ball impressively, fighting over screens, and walling off penetration, but would never really sustain this for more than a few seconds at a time, relaxing in his stance as soon as the ball was swung the other way.
More often than not, Smith would stand completely upright on the perimeter off the ball, appearing to just be going through the motions waiting for the opposing team's possession to end. He doesn't have the type of length required to make up for his poor fundamentals and intensity-level, as his mediocre 6'3 wingspan will always make him a one-position defender regardless.
With all that said, there is still quite a bit to like about Smith's talent level, as guards with his combination of speed, power, explosiveness and creativity with the ball are what make modern-day NBA offenses go, and the situation at N.C. State was far from ideal. He will undoubtedly look better with NBA caliber talent surrounding him and better guidance coming from the sidelines, and will very likely put up big numbers if given the keys to a team's offense. Smith's ability to help a NBA team win games, and the affect he might have on an organization's culture, are issues that will he will continue to plague him until he can prove otherwise, and will likely drag his stock down a bit relative to some of his peers over the course of the draft process.
Although ranked tenth on this list, Dennis Smith was one of the top names to watch at last week's Adidas Nations. One year removed from a torn ACL at last years Adidas Nations, Smith looked back in full force, and put his name back in the conversation as one of the potential top picks in next years draft if he chooses to go that direction. Smith enrolled at N.C. State last season, but has yet to play a game at the college level, and will likely be given the keys to Mark Gottfried's offense this season. Interview and Highlights from Adidas Nations Wearing no brace, and showing no ill effects from last years' injury, Smith controlled the game from the point guard position, using his quickness and ball handling ability to take guys off the dribble and get to the rim with ease. Smith has explosive athletic ability, and is phenomenal in transition with change of speeds and direction, but also showed the ability to get aggressively down hill out of ball screens and finish above the rim, or creatively in traffic.
He has real playmaking skills as well, and when he is not looking to attack and get into the paint, he can play patiently out of the pick and roll or hit the quick pocket pass. His jump shot remains a work in progress, which is typical for an 18-year-old point guard. He is capable of hitting the one or two dribble pull up, but his mechanics are inconsistent, something that is definitely fixable over time. As dynamic as Smith is on the offensive end of the floor, he looked equally competitive on the defensive end of the floor. He moves well laterally, and gets tons of steals with his quick hands and ability to get into the passing lanes. He led the tournament in steals at 3.3 per game.
Smith has all the makings of a one and done NBA prospect if he can continue to come back from his injury at full health. He only played 3 out of his teams 5 games at the Adidas Nations, a precautionary measure as he prepares himself for next season. He looked winded at times, and will have to get his legs underneath him after such a long absence away from the game. If Smith can stay healthy, show development on his jump shot, and play the point guard position at a consistent level, he already has the size, athletic ability and skill-level NBA teams look for in a starting point guard.
Strengths: -Has outstanding physical tools for a point guardvery good size, strength and athleticism -Incredible athlete. Gets to wherever he wants on the floor. Lightning quick first step. Changes speeds amazingly well. Finishes above the rim with ease. -Very good ball-handler -Difficult to contain in open court with combination of speed, strength and shiftiness -Can create his own shot driving either left or right -Can knock down shots with feet set or off the dribble, albeit inconsistently. Has good shooting mechanics. -Excellent passer when he wants to be. Finds teammates off the dribble impressively. Will be a very good distributor when it's all said and done -Huge potential as a pick and roll threat thanks to ball-handling, shooting, ability to change speeds and court vision -Will be an excellent defender if he wants to be. Shows very quick feet. The ability to get in passing lanes. -Rebounds well from guard position
Weaknesses: -Has plenty of room to improve his decision making and overall polish, particularly in the half-court -Can look very wild at times. Doesn't always read the floor. Tries to just blow by opponents every time. Forces up difficult shots. Turns ball over -Sloppy with his finishes around the basket in the half-court at times. Just tosses up floaters from outside the paint -Perimeter shot is still fairly streaky. Hit just 20/70 of 3-point attempts (28.5%) in 27 games we have logged this summer. 91/126 (72%) from the free throw line leaves room for optimism -Just goes through the motions at times on defense
Outlook: Potentially the most athletic guard in high school basketball. Looks to have grown. May be a legit 6-3 now. Outside shot is progressing. Developing a little more of a personality on the court as well. Looked unstoppable in pick and roll situations until a knee injury (eventually diagnosed as a torn ACL) knocked him out of the final day of televised games. Has plenty of things he can continue to work on, but nothing that can't be fixed. Missing his senior season of high school basketball is unfortunate, but as long as he recovers accordingly, his ceiling as a prospect is very very high.
Dennis Smith measured a middling 6'0.5 in shoes, but has gained some 15 pounds since last season. His 8'1 standing reach doesn't jump off the page among point guards historically, though players like Jay Williams and Stephen Curry certainly found ways to make it work.
Strengths: -Good size -Strong frame -Tremendous athlete -Can play above the rim with ease -Changes speeds -Great quickness in open court -Shows sparks of intriguing court vision -Makes some extremely creative passes at times -Solid shooting mechanics. Makes 3-pointers with his feet set and off the dribble -Only 16 years old
Weaknesses: -Ball-handling skills haven't caught up to athleticism yet -Likes to float out onto perimeter. -some really wild passes -Looks somewhat apathetic at times, like he's playing at half-speed. Doesn't show any emotion. Could be more vocal on the court -Shot selection isn't great -Still working on the consistency of his outside shot
Outlook: Smooth, fluid athlete with a dynamite first step and ability to operate at different speeds. Has another gear he can get to which makes him a terror to stay in front of in transition. Doesn't seem to know how good he is at this stage. Looks like he's going through the motions at times, but is extremely impressive when he's fully engaged and decides to turn it on. Very young and still has a lot of room to continue to grow. Extremely talented.
Dennis Smith led the Americans with 14 points. A consensus top-20 recruit in the high school class of 2016, Smith got off to a slow start over the first two days, appearing a bit apathetic, making some poor decisions when attacking the rim, and struggling to handle pressure, but settled in nicely today. Competing with the sense of urgency he seemed to lack early on, Smith showed the ability to create space and probe the paint by changing speeds and being aggressive.
The North Carolina native has a nice frame for a lead guard standing 6'2 with a 6'3 wingspan to go along with solid athleticism. He needs to continue getting stronger, but has some nice tools to work with physically. A capable shooter with nice mechanics who can create for others when he's dialed in, it was nice to see Smith turn things around on day three. His decision-making still leaved something to be desired at times, but Smith consistently utilized the quickness and passing ability that have made him such a highly touted recruit. One of the youngest players on this team, Smith showed some flashes today, and has been one of the most productive players in the inaugural season of adidas's AAU circuit, the Gauntlet averaging 18.5 points and 5.7 assist per-game for Team Loaded NC.