Dennis Smith Jr. will don a new integer on the back of his jersey next season, switching to number four instead of five in an attempt to harken back to his days at NC State.
The change was first reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post, who cited “an NBA source.” Gregg Schwartz, vice president of public relations for the Knicks, confirmed the news in a Thursday evening email. DSJ was number four back in college, where he played one season and averaged 18 points (45% from the field, 36% from three), 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Not too shabby.
Here, see for yourself how lovely it looks when Smith Jr. is wearing number four and lighting it up on the hardwood:
That was only a few years ago, folks. It was 2016-17. DSJ is only 22-years-old. There may be hope. Of course, a jersey switch doesn’t mean he’s going to improve. But maybe it signals an attitude change. Since coming to the Knicks, Smith Jr. has mostly looked tentative and out of sorts. In 55 total games with New York, DSJ is averaging 9 points (38% from the field and 29% from deep), 4 assists and 2.5 rebounds. Not to mention, he botched the dunk contest.
Heading into next season, he’s got a new coaching staff that sees his raw talent. Tom Thibodeau was “enamored” with DSJ coming out of college, according to SNY’s Ian Begley. Perhaps player development guru Johnnie Bryant can work his magic with the high-flyer.
This will actually represent the third jersey number for DSJ since he entered the NBA. He was number one on Dallas, and changed to five when he was dealt to the Knicks in the Kristaps Porzingis trade because both one and four were taken (by Emmanuel Mudiay and Isaiah Hicks, respectively).
For fun, here’s the list of all 24 past Knicks who have worn number four:
The last Knick to change his number was Mitchell Robinson, who went from 26 to 23 ahead of last season. For Mitch, the jersey change led to a year in which he broke Wilt Chamberlain’s single season field goal percentage record, so needless to say, it’s fair to expect historic output from DSJ whenever the Knicks take the court again.
Here’s hoping that his fresh jersey number will lead to a fresh start. Lord knows that both he and Knicks fans could use it. Alright, that’s probably more than enough words about the new jersey number. Let’s enjoy one minute straight of DSJ throwing down monster jams: