After dismantling Duke, Dennis Smith Jr. has put himself into the conversation for the top overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Quite hard to believe considering the talented class of point guards who are projected to be selected with the first ten picks. But, make no mistake about it, Smith is something special.
Only a freshman, Smith is among the top college players in the country. He’s on par with the likes of Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and DeAaron Fox when it comes to best first-year point guards, and he might be the best of the bunch.
On the year, Smith Jr. averages 19.5 points and 6.4 assists per game, team highs in both categories. He’s been the backbone of N.C. State, despite the team’s so-so record. There are many who feel he’s the best point guard in the country, and I’m one of them.
Smith Jr. dropped 32 points on Duke during a recent ACC matchup. Quite impressive for a player who missed his entire Senior year of High School with a torn ACL. And while I can’t put my finger on exactly what the differences between Ball, Fultz, Smith and Fox are, I’m just drawn to Smith because of the way he dominated the Blue Devils, basically winning the game on his own.
As it relates to the NBA, I see a lot of Eric Bledsoe and Kyrie Irving in Smith Jr. He’s got a great ability to drive the basketball, and pairs that with a wicked crossover. And like both, Smith has great court vision, and also disrupts the passing lanes, creating a ton of turnovers.
Picking a favorite amongst the eligible draftees this season isn’t easy. While I’m sold on Smith, I can see why other teams would look to Ball, Fox, or Fultz, as they are all great players.
One thing is for sure, this 2017 NBA Draft class will be filled with promising point guards, and Dennis Smith Jr. should be at the top of that list.
Follow Daniel James Gentile on twitter @dgentleman9288