Potential Wolves draft pick profile: Dennis Smith Jr.
Leading up to the NBA Draft, FOX Sports North will take a look at some options for the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 7 overall pick. We continue the series with North Carolina State guard Dennis Smith Jr.
Previously: Jonathan Isaac | Malik Monk | Lauri Markkanen
FRAME: 6-foot-3, 195 pounds (n/a wingspan)
POSITION: Point guard
2016-17 STATISTICAL AVERAGES: 34.8 minutes, 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.4 blocks, 45.5 FG%, 35.9 3PT%, 71.5 FT%.
TROPHY CASE: Was named ACC Rookie of the Year as well second-team all-conference. The Associated Press also tabbed him as the ACC's top newcomer. … Smith was one of four freshmen to be named a finalist for the 2017 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. … No trophy was given for this, but certainly a crowning moment was helping lead North Carolina State to its first victory, scoring 32 points, over Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995.
TALE OF THE TAPE: One of the best passers available in the draft, Smith tied for 10th in the NCAA in assists per game and no one else in college basketball had more than the 16 assists he had against Rider on Dec. 28. But Smith isn't just a passer. He's an explosive athlete who is good at slashing and scoring when needed, as evidenced by his 18.1 points per game. Smith had two triple-doubles (13 points, 15 assists, 11 rebounds vs. Syracuse and 27 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds vs. Virginia Tech) to become only the fourth ACC player in league history to have two triple-doubles in a season. Ralph Sampson is the only other freshman to accomplish that feat.
GET TO KNOW HIM: One of the highest-rated recruits in the nation, Smith tore his ACL in August right before his senior year. He elected to enroll at North Carolina early, in January, and rehab his knee so he'd be ready for the start of the Wolfpack's regular season as a freshman. (And he did, and he was, scoring 20+ points in four of the seven games NC State played in November.)
However, consistency seemed to be a problem with Smith -- he had a couple of eight-point clunkers and scored just seven points in a loss to Clemson in the ACC tournament. NC State would go just 15-17 and fire head coach Mark Gottfried before the season even ended.
WHY IT WORKS: If you don't think Smith is a highly thought-of prospect, take note that back in late August of 2016 the website NBADraft.net had him going No. 1 in their mock draft. Question his team's record? Well, what about Markelle Fultz, who is expected to be the top pick in this year's draft. The reality is NC State's offense was bad -- really bad -- without Smith on the floor. Get Smith with some players who can score (hmmm, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, perhaps), and look out. Smith wouldn't necessarily be only some down-the-road kind of pick; analysts seem him contributing immediately.
WHY IT DOESN’T: With reportedly only a 6-3 wingspan, Smith wouldn't exactly be an upgrade on defense for a team which is looking to upgrade on that side of the ball. Plus, the team already has Ricky Rubio, coming off perhaps his best season as a pro, and drafted (or acquired) point guards in the first round of the last two drafts in Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones.
FILM ROOM: Smith has displayed his elite athleticism since he was in high school (and remember he didn't play as a senior). He also, apparently, has a nickname - "The Evolution" - because, well, we're not entirely sure.
If you don't like Duke, you'll enjoy this one.