Can Dennis Smith Jr. Be an All-Star Within Three Years?
By Isaac Harris
Dennis Smith Jr. wants to play on Sunday during an All-Star Weekend, but how soon will that happen?
Dennis Smith Jr. arrived in Los Angeles locked and loaded for his first NBA All-Star weekend. In fact, it is not only the first one he has participated in, but the first one he has ever attended.
On Friday, February 16th, Smith Jr. sat behind the mic for his media availability where he took questions from the national media.
From who he thinks will win the rookie of the year to his thoughts heading into the dunk contest, Smith Jr. received a plethora of questions, but he also mentioned a goal he has for next year.
Call me biased (because I cover the Mavericks and write for the team also), but I think we can all agree that Smith Jr.’s day of being an All-Star is on the horizon. The only question is how soon can we expect him to be in the All-Star game?
The Western Conference Guards
How the current voting system is set up, there are two starting guards, two reserve guards and two wildcard spots in the Western Conference. Basically, Dennis will need land one of the six available spots for guards on the roster.
Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook are locks for the next five years barring a major injury or one of them leaving the conference. Let’s assume that neither happens.
This takes the available spots for Dennis down to three.
The second reserve guard spot voted on by the coaches then comes down to a handful of players. Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Mike Conley, C.J. McCollum, Devin Booker and Lou Williams. You could also throw in Donovan Mitchell if he continues to build off his rookie year.
The two wildcard spots can be any position.
When you look at it this way, it could be a long road up for Dennis Smith Jr.
The success of the Dallas Mavericks will mean a lot to the chances of Smith Jr. making the All-Star team.
Five of the six guards selected to the All-Star game this year in the Western Conference plays for a team with a top five record in the conference. Damian Lillard is the only exception and Portland sits tied for sixth. If it wasn’t for the injury to Chris Paul, he probably would have replaced Lillard.
Bottom line, the Mavericks will have to get better fast for Dallas to not just get into the playoffs, but be a top six or seven team in the West.
So far this season, Smith Jr. is averaging right at 15 points, five assists and four rebounds a game on 29 minutes a game. He is also shooting right at 40% from the field and a rough 31% from three.
Lets compare him to Lillard, Thompson, Butler and Paul this year.
Lillard- 26/6/4 in 36 mpg. Shooting 44% from field and 37% from three.
Thompson- 20/4/2 in 34 mpg. Shooting 49% from field and 45% from three.
Butler- 22/5/5 in 37 mpg. Shooting 47% from field and 35% from three.
Paul- 19/8/5 in 31 mpg. Shooting 47% from field and 40% from three.
Smith Jr. is obviously averaging less minutes per game so lets look at his per-36 numbers.
Smith Jr.- 18 points, six assists and four rebounds.
Even though he has some work to do in order to get to these numbers, seeing a significant growth in his numbers should be expected.
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The bottom line to Smith Jr. becoming an All-Star has everything to do with how fast the Mavericks can pull off this rebuild.
As we have seen with Damian Lillard in the past, or even Devin Booker this year, personal statistics don’t mean much in the All-Star race if your team isn’t in the playoff picture.
You also have to consider age and upcoming free agency to the guards in the West. Chris Paul is 32 years old and hits free agency this summer. Butler has one more year until he has a player option to stay in Minnesota.
Injuries happen and players switch conferences, but if you are the best player on a team with a five to six best record in their conference, then your odds of landing on the All-Star team skyrocket.
Will Dennis Smith Jr. be an All-Star within three years in the league?
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Maybe not three, but in four to five years, I believe Dennis will be playing on Sunday.