Nets guard tabbed as player who 'needs more respect'

Jan 23, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) leads a fast break
Jan 23, 2024; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Smith Jr. (4) leads a fast break / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets as a whole may be falling short of reaching expectations that were set heading into the 2023-24 campaign but found on their roster are players who, in many ways, have surpassed them from an individual standpoint.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises on the year thus far has been the efforts put forth by Dennis Smith Jr., a player who, coming into his first season in the borough, had been severely slept on when it comes to what he can provide to a team from a two-way standpoint.

Fast forward four months into the year, however, and the former lottery pick has quietly become one of the club's most effective and consistent contributors and, in many ways, a fan favorite as a result of both his skills and personality.

In fact, his first year with the Nets has been so impressive that Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes has gone as far as to tab him as a player who "needs more respect" from those familiar with the league when it comes to what he provides on a nightly basis.

Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Smith Jr. a player that 'needs more respect'

"His plus-3.0 Defensive Estimated Plus/Minus ranks in the 98th percentile leaguewide, and he's posted steal rates in the top 10 percent at his position in each of the last four years. You don't even really need the numbers when it comes to Smith's impact. All you have to do is watch him smother whatever poor soul is stuck across from him, and you can appreciate what he does.

Smith wasn't always this good on D. Far from it, actually. But now that he's settled into a clear role, DSJ is a true weapon against the best offensive players in the league. Smith's most frequent matchups in 2023-24 are Stephen Curry, Trae Young and Donovan Mitchell."

Grant Hughes

While posting a career-best defensive box plus-minus rating of 1.7, Smith finds himself posting sound per-game averages of 6.8 points, 3.9 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in 19.6 minutes.

Should he be able to find a way to consistently knock down jumpers and put his off the charts athleticism to good and consistent use, there's a chance that the Nets guard could still become a two-way stud at the professional level.