LeBron James says Knicks should have taken Dennis Smith Jr

Nov 11, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) talks to Dallas Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (1) as they walk up the court during the fourth quarter at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports
© Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Dallas Mavericks, 111-104, on Saturday night, recovering from a halftime deficit to move within a game of .500 for the 2017-18 season. As they keep their eyes on yet another NBA Finals, the Mavericks moved to 2-11 on the season and 1-6 at home.

Following the game, LeBron James commented on the performance of Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., saying, “He should be a Knick.” The comment comes in reference to the fact that the New York Knicks passed on selecting Smith with the eighth-overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, in favor of selecting Frank Ntilikina out of France, choosing to pair him with Latvian-born star Kristaps Porzingis.

Smith finished Saturday’s game against Cleveland with 21 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. Coming into the night, he was averaging 14.2 points, 4.9 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game in more than 28 minutes per night in his first 10 NBA contests.

Smith played just a single season for the North Carolina State Wolfpack last season, going on to be named ACC Rookie of the Year. Instead of eighth, he was taken ninth overall by the Mavericks, who are in a rebuilding stage, coming off having averaged the fewest points per game in the league last season.

By comparison, Ntilikina has averaged 4.7 points and 5.0 assists in just under 20 minutes per game in his first nine NBA games. Prior to joining the Knicks, he played professionally in France.

Ntilikina and Smith Jr. will get their first look at one another on Jan. 7 when New York travels to Dallas.

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