When Dennis Smith Jr. was signed by the Charlotte Hornets, I wrote that it was a very low risk, potentially high reward move. Smith fougt injuries prior to his arrival in the Queen City, but has also had some success in the NBA – making all rookie team. Through eight games so far this season, Smith has been everything the Hornets could’ve asked for and then some. With LaMelo Ball sidelined with an ankle injury and Terry Rozier getting injured in the second game of the season, Smith Jr. was inserted into the starting lineup and has played quite well for Charlotte.
Dennis is averaging 12 points, 6.4 assists, and 4.3 rebounds, and has been quite a presence defensively. In the Hornets’ win over the defending champion Warriors, Smith made a crucial game-tying layup and then locked up Steph Curry – sending the game into overtime where the Hornets would eventually win. Smith Jr. has improved his 3-point shooting this season – averaging 42% from behind the arc so far this season. Outside of a relatively bad performance versus the Magic, he has been consistent.
When LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier return Dennis will likely go back to the bench, but I would expect him to continue his play as a lynch pin – commanding the second unit. The Hornets have lost their last two games and not having their floor general has shown. The Hornets looked like they were on their way to a victory against the Kings until Sacramento blitzed them 38-17 in the third quarter, and the Hornets couldn’t make enough plays to win that game. Then last night versus the Bulls, the Hornets couldn’t get anything going and the shots weren’t falling. Hopefully, LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier return soon and Gordon Hayward’s shoulder injury isn’t too serious. When this team gets healthy, I am curious to see what role Dennis Smith Jr. will play, but so far he has been a bright spot for the Hornets after a rough off-season and injury-riddled start to the year.