Dennis Smith Jr. says he’s going to raise his game to the ‘next level,’ lead Knicks to playoffs

Dennis Smith Jr. is confident in himself and the Knicks.

New York finished 2018-19 with a 17-65 record and missed the playoffs for a sixth straight year. The team, however, has made major changes to its roster and Smith believes it will be fighting for a playoff spot next season.

“I think we can hit the playoffs,” Smith said, via the New York Daily News. “Everybody does a lot of talking and things like that. I’ve never really been one to feed into it on social media and things like that. But I think we have a really good team, and especially with the way I’ve been working this summer, I think I’m going to take my game to the next level and it’s going to put us in the playoffs.”

The Knicks inked Julius Randle, Bobby Portis and Reggie Bullock, among others, to contracts this summer and also selected RJ Barrett with the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft. But, they missed out on stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who both signed with New York’s cross-town rival, the Nets.

“I wasn’t surprised (about Durant and Irving signing in Brooklyn), to be honest with you,” Smith said. “People in the league talk anyway. They just keep it private. People in the league talk. They’re great players but I like what we have, to be honest with you.

“I know there are a lot of hecklers out there and talking this that and the third. But I like what we have, and I’m not really concerned with what’s going on in Brooklyn.”

Smith began his career with the Mavericks and was sent to the Knicks as part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade in February. He averaged 14.7 points and 5.4 assists while shooting just 28.9% from 3-point range in 21 games with New York.