Dennis Smith Jr. spent the summer working on his shot, rebuilding it with the intention of securing the starting point guard role with the Knicks. He had hoped to fulfill the potential that had him rated as a top high school player before a knee injury derailed him.
He struggled through the preseason with a lower back strain and shooting woes. The back now is healthy but the shot is not. And Smith has found himself in the frustrating position of waiting for an opportunity that has rarely come.
After an 0-for-3 night accompanied by loud boos from the Madison Square Garden crowd, Smith is shooting 1-for-11 in the first three games. He did not play at all in the second half against the Nets on Friday night and has averaged nine minutes of action. And the fans who were chanting for Frank Ntilikina and booing Smith would like that reduced.
“I feel like I’m in a space right now, I look at everything as nothing happens to me, it happens for me,” Smith said. “That’s just how I’m moving.
“You can never simulate a game. But I put in extra work. I make sure I get work in every day. The way at everything right now is nothing happens to me. Everything happens for me. Everything’s already written.”
That sounds either cryptic or resigned, but Smith said he remains confident. “That’s the only thing that I’m missing right now, continuing to know that the next one is going to fall,” he said. “That’s the only thing missing. Other than that, everything is good.
“[I’m confident] because the tweaks I made weren’t anything major, not like that. I know that it works because I shot the ball really well this summer. I shot it well coming into training camp. I know it works. It’s just taking me time to get back to it.”
“We’re three games into it,” coach David Fizdale said. “It’s not like it’s 20 games into the season. But other guys will get opportunities. That’s how it’s going to work. You either perform and you’re getting it done or you’re not. Our fans are passionate, I get it. The kid is obviously struggling. But like I said, we’ll look at the situation and continue to adjust.”