A few weeks ago during the NBA Summer League (The best one in YEARS) I had the pleasure of watching Dennis Smith Jr. perform. You see, I’ve seen DSJ play since he was about 13-14 years old. During his Middle School and early High School year(s) Dennis Smith Jr. was a guard on our AAU Team, The Karolina Diamonds. Coach Kevin Graves and Coach Steve Rush were more than Basketball Mentors to our Team, they were “Life” Mentors that taught the kids the value of education, morals and hard work. Dennis Smith Jr. was an exceptional talent from Day 1 to be 100% honest with you. A lot of my Fraternity Brothers (including myself) cheered for these young men to at least get a full academic scholarship and graduate college with no debt. Some players are just special and Dennis Smith Jr. is one of those guys. Dennis went on to play in various AAU tournaments in different circuits because of his talent. I’m going to be perfectly honest, I told a few of my friends when DSJ was 16 years old that he looked like an NBA Guard and that he would play 1 year in college and declare for the Draft. By the time he was a High School Junior, I said he looked like the next Steve Francis.
Fox Sports 1 Analyst Skip Bayless always talk about the “Eye Test” when assessing talent. I understand exactly what he means because in my humble opinion, the eyes don’t lie. People can form opinions about players all day but I know what I see. There are a few so called experts that decided to pass up on Dennis Smith Jr. in the NBA Draft and he fell to the 9th pick. Of course being a Top 10 pick in the NBA Draft is great, especially for a Freshman Guard. NC State didn’t have a great season and this could have possibly been a factor in DSJ not being a Top 5 Pick like quite a few Scouts anticipated and predicted. One thing that I did notice on Social Media was how upset New York Knicks fans were because the franchise passed up on Smith with their 8th pick. I’m actually glad because The Knicks are a very dysfunctional organization. The Dallas Mavericks are the perfect fit and Rick Carlisle will be a great teacher in my opinion. You also have the legendary Dirk Nowitzki on the roster to provide guidance, leadership and championship experience. The maturation of Dennis Smith Jr. can truly take off if he remains healthy and willing to learn.
Ok, so what about the Steve Francis comparison? Well, that was the first name that came to mind a few years ago as I watched one of his AAU Games. People forget that Francis was a beast during his time at Maryland and the early years of his NBA Career where he was an All Star Starter. Steve Francis was a strong scoring Point Guard who would put you on a poster. Dennis Smith Jr. will do the same thing to you if you get in the way of him and the rim. During the NBA Summer League there were some fans who had no idea that he could jump out the gym..lol. People forget Steve Francis competed with Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest and gave a great performance. I believe Dennis Smith Jr. could win the Dunk Contest if he decides to enter or at least suprise the field. I believe he can be a similar player to a prime Steve Francis. Who knows, maybe he will end up better than Francis. I tell you one thing that is very cool.... We got a chance to see a young kid from Fayetteville North Carolina score points on our AAU team and now he’s a character on a video game our kids can play on X-Box and Playstation….Wow