Dennis Smith Jr. had an impressive debut with the Dallas Mavericks during the 2017-18 NBA season but things have just spiraled. Entering the final year of his contract, the 22-year-old point guard needs to make the most out of it. If he fails to deliver, his future is not looking good.

Everything was going well for him even when he was traded to the Knicks in January 2019. To recall, he was part of that trade involving DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews plus two future first-round picks in exchange for Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee.

Smith showed promise final 21 games of the 2018-19 season, averaging  14.7 points, 5.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds per Basketball-Reference. Unfortunately, his stock dipped last season, playing only in 34 games and norming 5.5 points, 2.9 assists and 2.3 rebounds.

In all, Smith’s game has gone down. However, the problems that the Knicks underwent could have had a hand in it. Heading into the 2020-21 NBA season, Smith could get another chance at rejuvenating his career. With Tom Thibodeau now at the helm, the 9th overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft has one last chance to prove his worth. Better yet, Thibodeau sees something in Smith and has something in mind.

Hence, it all boils down to how Smith will respond to the plans of Thibodeau. Given he had a woeful 2019-20 season, not all feel he would be fit to start once more. The best to expect is seeing the 6-foot-2 guard coming off the bench. Of course, that could translate to a starting role – meaning Smith needs to work his way up. The fact that Thibodeau is enamored by him should be a boost, a chance for him to recall his old explosive self, SNY.tv reported.

With Thibodeau keeping track of his progress, Smith Jr. could be the guard that the Knicks need. The name of Chris Paul has been mentioned but taking in his hefty contract may not be wise. Trading Smith and some of the other guys could happen. But given that CP3 is perhaps in the final leg of his career, it may be an investment that would go to waste.

Finally, Smith is in the final year of his deal. If not with the Knicks, he needs to push himself and use the coming NBA season as a means to audition to attract interest from other teams. He needs to respond to Thibodeau’s challenge which can hopefully restore order to his distorted NBA journey.

Dennis Smith Jr. of the New York Knicks Dennis Smith Jr. of the New York Knicks Getty Images | Streeter Lecka