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  1. #1
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    Knicks’ ‘Shot Doctor’ is trying to save Dennis Smith Jr.

    Knicks’ ‘Shot Doctor’ is trying to save Dennis Smith Jr.


    By Marc Berman




    Keith Smart and Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. have been summer shooting pals for six weeks, in three cities, for countless hours. And it started in a chair.

    The Knicks assistant coach warned Smith the process would be “tedious.” It’s been all of that — and the alliance may turn so successful, the shape of the Knicks’ season could change.

    Smart is the former Indiana shooting guard best known for hitting the biggest baseline dagger in Syracuse history. Smart authored “The Shot’’ that slayed the Orangemen for the 1987 NCAA championship.

    After the 2018-19 season, coach David Fizdale handed Smart his summer assignment: make Smith’s jump shot dangerous.

    In his two seasons, Smith, the No. 9 pick in the draft for Dallas, posted a mediocre .407 shooting percentage — .316 from 3. Smart said his goal was to get Smith “balance on his jump shot.”

    Smith was the key piece in the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster in late January. Smart noticed quirks from the day Smith arrived in Tarrytown.

    “When we traded for Dennis, you have look at every player how can we help them get better shooting the basketball or passing,” Smart told The Post in a phone interview. “We got together in the gym in February to get a feel, look at his shot, what I can help him with. I got a picture of it.”

    In May, Smart flew to Smith’s hometown, Fayetteville, N.C. to launch “Project Dennis.” They’ve also worked in New York and Las Vegas during the summer league in early July. They will resume in August.


    “It’s getting his delivery system into the shot where he can get more confident shooting,’’ Smart said. “He’s been a willing participant. I told him it would be tedious process to start. But if we do it all right, he’ll start feeling it.”

    In Vegas, Smith was genuinely enthused, saying “a big difference” had already taken place. He projected he would “take my game to the next level and it’s going to put us in the playoffs.”

    That’s a lot of pressure on Smart, a former Warriors assistant and head coach who also worked with Fizdale in Miami and Memphis. Smart has always been “The Shot Doctor’’ and is nicknamed “Smarty.’’ He was smart enough not to touch Stephen Curry’s pure launch during their two seasons together with Golden State (2009-11).

    Smart said he’s been lucky to always have coaches obsessed with shooting fundamentals — middle school, high school, then with junior-college Hall-of-Famer Jim Carey at Garden City (Kan.) Community College and Bobby Knight at Indiana. Taking shots off the side of a wall were commonplace drills.

    Five years ago, Smart took up golfing and marveled at how pros deconstructed a swing to its finest component.

    “So I wanted to use that approach in basketball shooting because those guys do a great job — how they teach it,’’ Smart said.
    Smart went back to the basics with Smith.

    “We started shooting in a chair, taking out all the floor movement and just looking at the shoulders,” Smart said. “The delivery of the hands through the basketball. We worked on that for about a week.”

    A week?

    “I told him it was going to get boring,’’ Smart said. “But don’t get bored with any of it.’’

    Eventually, Smith, arguably the 2017 draft’s most athletic player, emerged from the chair and more fine-tuning took place.

    “In my day, I was a leaper, I can jump and get off the floor for a jump shot,’’ Smart said. “But I wasn’t in the same position leaving the floor. And so he was in the same boat I was in, figuring out you don’t have to leap off the floor as high as you can. Doing that takes you off balance.

    “We tried to slow things down for him, leaving the floor. You see all the great shooters, they don’t leave the floor that high to get their shots off. They just have good lift on their shots. And your feet shouldn’t be off balance when you shoot the ball.”
    Smart can’t count the number of Smith summer jumpers he’s witnessed.

    “I don’t believe in putting a number,’’ Smart said. “I said ‘shoot it until you feel 100 percent comfortable’. That may be five shots. It obviously went longer. But I wanted him to feel comfortable. It had to be about him. It maybe didn’t feel comfortable until 100 and we went to the next drill.’’



    As a point guard, Smith is asked to create jumpers off the dribble, as opposed to spot-up shooters. Smart said finding “better balance’’ on such plays became another major area of emphasis.

    Smart would not go as far as projecting Smith’s shooting numbers this season. But the 54-year-old assistant coach said he feels terrific about what they’ve accomplished as the Sept. 30 start of training camp approaches.

    “We did it slowly,’’ Smart said. “But the big thing is he had to get the confidence to believe in it. And as we did it, he got more confidence in his shooting. Before you knew it, we were right on track. The only piece missing is live competition when he gets into a real game and puts it all together.’’

  2. #2
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    it would be great for the Knicks if he can get his game up a few levels, he's so damn athletic, and if comes close to how Dlo did it, Knicks have something.

    I like what Fiz did here with the individual attention from Smart, and with reading this it's DSJ's job to lose, Payton will start off as his backup.

    He did well in the pick and rolls with Mitch last year and will have a couple wings now to kick out to unlike last year.

  3. #3
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    When did the Knicks trade for Fultz?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by still a fan View Post
    it would be great for the Knicks if he can get his game up a few levels, he's so damn athletic, and if comes close to how Dlo did it, Knicks have something.

    I like what Fiz did here with the individual attention from Smart, and with reading this it's DSJ's job to lose, Payton will start off as his backup.

    He did well in the pick and rolls with Mitch last year and will have a couple wings now to kick out to unlike last year.
    DSjr needs to make two jumps shooting wise. This year needs to be intermediate gains of 2-4% with at least 34% from 3pt on decent volume and then become legit next season.

  5. #5
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    i think he needs to work on his midrange first and foremost. that will open things up for him more. He's taking too many 3's for a guy that is shooting 31% from there.

    develop your mid range and then work your way out... cant expect to become a good 3pt shooter without being able to known down the mid range first

  6. #6
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    Oh thought DSJ got shot and a doctor was trying to save him.

  7. #7
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    If Fiz wasn't our coach I'd wonder why this exact article was written about trying to fix Frank's shot. Even though he has better form the feet consistancy is a big piece of what he is missing too.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by nycericanguy View Post
    i think he needs to work on his midrange first and foremost. that will open things up for him more. He's taking too many 3's for a guy that is shooting 31% from there.

    develop your mid range and then work your way out... cant expect to become a good 3pt shooter without being able to known down the mid range first
    I think this is half true. There is a long list of NBA players who could hit open 3s but were useless trying to shoot inside the arc. Inside the arc you are shooting off the dribble (unless you are a pick and pop big) and in the middle of all the action. It's just a busier and more difficult place to shoot. Obviously if you can step into a wide open 15 footer it's an easier shot than a wide open 3 for most, but for a ball handler it's not necessarily an easy place to get shots off and it's usually coming off the bounce and on the move.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by D-Leethal View Post
    I think this is half true. There is a long list of NBA players who could hit open 3s but were useless trying to shoot inside the arc. Inside the arc you are shooting off the dribble (unless you are a pick and pop big) and in the middle of all the action. It's just a busier and more difficult place to shoot. Obviously if you can step into a wide open 15 footer it's an easier shot than a wide open 3 for most, but for a ball handler it's not necessarily an easy place to get shots off and it's usually coming off the bounce and on the move.
    I agree with this and nycerican also, but I think after the trade it was DSJ trying way to hard to impress NY fans and coach's.

    he only played 21 games here so I'm not going to make those stats the end all, but he did play 32 games in Dallas prior to the trade.

    FYI he shot .344 from three and .395 from 16ft to 3 point so that is pretty good, his weakness was 3-16 feet which he shot .333 that has to go up a lot and not sure why unless he's taking forced shots while well covered.

    But if he's improved his shot completely I think we may have a reason to get a little excited, we shall see.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by nycericanguy View Post
    i think he needs to work on his midrange first and foremost. that will open things up for him more. He's taking too many 3's for a guy that is shooting 31% from there.

    develop your mid range and then work your way out... cant expect to become a good 3pt shooter without being able to known down the mid range first
    Mid-range is waste of time he should keep shooting 3s

    Sent from my BND-L34 using Tapatalk

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheetos185 View Post
    Mid-range is waste of time he should keep shooting 3s

    Sent from my BND-L34 using Tapatalk
    it's not the shot you want long term but there aren't many guards that can shoot 3's but cant shoot a midrange or a FT...

    But there are guards who aren't the best 3pt shooters but overall are effective in mid range and so forth.

    gotta learn to walk before you can run.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by D-Leethal View Post
    I think this is half true. There is a long list of NBA players who could hit open 3s but were useless trying to shoot inside the arc. Inside the arc you are shooting off the dribble (unless you are a pick and pop big) and in the middle of all the action. It's just a busier and more difficult place to shoot. Obviously if you can step into a wide open 15 footer it's an easier shot than a wide open 3 for most, but for a ball handler it's not necessarily an easy place to get shots off and it's usually coming off the bounce and on the move.
    examples? Also DSJR is not just taking open 3's, he was taking a lot of contested 3's last year. I think just about anyone should shoot a 3 if they are open...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by nycericanguy View Post
    examples? Also DSJR is not just taking open 3's, he was taking a lot of contested 3's last year. I think just about anyone should shoot a 3 if they are open...
    Lots of 3&D guys are unable to get quality looks inside the arc. You really need examples of guys who are trained to hit open 3s but are useless getting shots off inside the arc?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by D-Leethal View Post
    Lots of 3&D guys are unable to get quality looks inside the arc. You really need examples of guys who are trained to hit open 3s but are useless getting shots off inside the arc?
    I can't think of anyone that shoots 3's well but shoots poorly on jumpers overall.

    DSJR can get his shot off anywhere sure but he's not hitting them.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by nycericanguy View Post
    I can't think of anyone that shoots 3's well but shoots poorly on jumpers overall.

    DSJR can get his shot off anywhere sure but he's not hitting them.
    I don't think you can really lump all jumpers together. Dribble pull ups is a much different shot than a catch and shoot. Dribble pull ups is how you get shots off in the mid range the vast majority of the time. For DSJ to become a solid mid range shooter, he's gonna have to be a solid off the dribble shooter, which is more difficult for a lot of guys than hitting swing 3s. Getting the 3 ball down is probably more important for his game than learning how to navigate hitting jumpers in the mid range, because off the dribble shooting is a different, and most of the time more difficult art.

    Hit your open 3s and take everything inside to the rim. If the mid-range comes great but it's not a necessity for ball handlers and is often more difficult (because it's an off the dribble shot).

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