When the Knicks took Frank Ntilikina out of France with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft ahead of Dennis Smith Jr. out of NC State, the two were always going to be compared. Smith went to Dallas at No. 9, and when he tore up Summer League in Las Vegas, there was plenty of chatter about whether the Knicks made a mistake.
Smith is averaging 14.8 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game, although he’s struggling with efficiency with a 46.8 effective field goal percentage. Ntilikina sat out early in the season but has appeared in 10 games so far for New York, averaging 4.4 points, 5.0 assists, and 1.6 steals per game in 20 minutes per, with even bigger struggles with efficiency with a 38.7 eFG percentage.
Neither player is lighting the world on fire and it’s far too early to consider one the clearly superior player, but the argument about the two was heated up on Saturday night after LeBron James’ comments about Smith. LeBron said he “should be a Knick” after Smith posted a big 21-point game on the Cavs, which certainly seemed like a jab at the Knicks and former president Phil Jackson.