Like Dennis Smith Jr. or not, he is the only guard that has a skill set distinct from the other three point guards on the team. Elfrid Payton is probably the Knicks best distributor and most purest point guard. Austin Rivers is your quintessential off-guard that can play some point guard and Frank Ntilikina is almost a blend between Payton and Rivers.
All three of those guards can defend with Ntilikina likely being the best defender of the three. Austin Rivers has shown his ability to score at times, but neither of the three has proven that they can be a consistent scorer.
Dennis Smith Jr. is the only player in the pack that has an explosive spark. That alone will ensure he gets a real look from Tom Thibodeau. This is not to say he is a shoe in to start or eat up all the playing time. But for those who insist he is on the move some time soon, you best believe Thibs will have close look at Smith. Jr. before it's all said and done.
Can you imagine if Dennis is able to rebound and you couple is explosiveness with Obi Toppin?