With comparisons being thrown around, Baron Davis is not just Dennis Smith Jr.’s favorite player, but who he resembles the most.
After Dennis Smith Jr.’s introductory press conference in Dallas the day after the draft, he slipped off with Dallas’ social media team to take questions from fans over Facebook live.
As he was taking questions on subjects across the spectrum, the question came up to him about who his favorite player of all time is.
Baron Davis was his answer.
Back in 1996, a young, explosive point guard by the name of Baron Davis came out of Santa Monica Crossroads High and was heralded as one of the top 10 high school players in the country by many. After being recruited by Duke and Kansas, Davis decided to stay near to home and sign with the UCLA Bruins.
He came to UCLA and put on a highlight show with his athleticism as a point guard.
As Davis spent his freshman year at UCLA in 1998, his career was put in jeopardy as Davis came down from a dunk in the NCAA Tournament and tore his ACL. For a point guard that relied so much on his athleticism, the news was devastating.
The recovery process started and Davis came back for his sophomore season at UCLA better than ever where he performed many of the highlights from the above video. He played in 27 games and averaged 16 points a game.
It was if the ACL tear never happened.
In 1999, Davis was the third overall pick just over a year from tearing his ACL. Davis would come into Charlotte and begin his 15 year career in the league.
After being drafted and spending six years with the Hornets franchise, Davis was traded to the Golden State Warriors and eventually spent time with the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks.
For a lot of readers, Davis is remembered for the first big beard and an injury plagued career in the league. But Davis was much more than that in his career.
Davis was a two-time all-star as he was selected in both 2001 and 2003 as a member of the Hornets. He averaged over 17 points a game in nine of his 15 years in the league. He was one of the better scoring point guards for more than a decade and his leaping ability had a lot to do with it.
Wearing number one, like Davis in Charlotte, for the Dallas Mavericks is your newest franchise point guard, Dennis Smith Jr..
Not only is Baron Davis Dennis Smith Jr.’s favorite player of all-time, they share more in common than some would think.
Both are point guards standing at 6’3″ and around 200 pounds. As shown above, both were point guards known for their elite leaping ability and explosiveness. Also, Smith Jr. tore his ACL before entering the NBA and came back just as explosive…just like Davis did at UCLA.
Watch this iconic dunk from Davis and think about Smith Jr.’s latest dunk attempt in Summer League.
Now check out Baron Davis’ top ten dunks of his career in the NBA with Dennis Smith Jr. on the back of your mind.
Derrick Rose gets thrown around a lot as a comparison but Smith Jr. can shoot better. Steve Francis is a popular one but Smith Jr. is more of an all-around, better point guard than Francis was. Russell Westbrook has been a common name thrown around on social media, but Smith Jr. doesn’t have the bigger frame as Westbrook possesses.
I believe there is a reason that Baron Davis is his favorite player of all-time.
They both were point guards. They both are the same size. They both tore their ACL before entering the league and came back more explosive. They both could drive the lane and dunk on anyone of any size.
The similarities are there, now it’s about Smith Jr. staying healthier than Davis did throughout his career.
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If he stays healthy, there is no reason Smith Jr. could give us all the answer to the “what if” question surrounding the injury plagued career of Baron Davis.
In the 2003-04 All-Star season of Baron Davis, he averaged 23 points, 7.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.4 steals (!) a game. In the 2006-07 season for the Golden State Warriors, Davis averaged 20.1 points, 8.1 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.1 steals a game.
These are just a few examples of what a healthy Baron Davis put up throughout his career. If Smith Jr. can duplicate those type of averages for many years in Dallas, then every team that picked above Dallas will be living with regret for quite some time.
To some, comparing Smith Jr. to Baron Davis might be a disservice. But if you really look back at the journey of Davis, his feel for the game, his athleticism in the paint and his ability to control the game offensively before his nagging injuries, you will see the early beginnings and potential of Dennis Smith Jr.
Now, Smith Jr. can show everyone what his favorite player of all-time could have been if he had stayed healthy.