Basketball

NBA Draft – Potential Landing Spots for Zhaire Smith

Lakers (#25)

There are rumors that the Lakers might want to trade up to get Zhaire:

The idea is that Smith would grow into the role Kentavious Caldwell-Pope filled for the Lakers last season.

To move up to the middle of the first round — Smith is expected to go mid-teens — the Lakers would need to find a team that would take the No. 25 pick and Josh Hart for it (Los Angeles doesn’t have a number of good other young pieces to move). Would Denver, Washington, or Phoenix be willing to do that? Depends on: 1) if those teams have someone they really like in that spot; 2) for the Wizards, how many changes do they plan to make to the roster this summer (maybe a lot) and how does Hart fit in with that?

The other part of that, the Lakers are loath to give up players/picks that they may need to dump the Luol Deng salary in the next year.

It’s unlikely the Lakers pull this off, but it’s something to watch.


76ers (#10 & #26)

 

With a pick at #10 & #26 in Round 1, the 76ers are looking at a long list of players that will go in this draft. Philly has an eye on Zhaire:

This was Smith’s fourth of six scheduled workouts with NBA teams. He previously worked out with the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers. Smith also will work out with the Charlotte Hornets and Phoenix Suns.

His quickness was on full display Tuesday, as defenders had a tough time staying in front of him. He also blocked Foster’s shot in a one-on-one drill. Smith later drove the lane, stopped and delivered a one-handed dunk on a defender at the conclusion of a drill.

The Sixers have the 10th and 26th overall picks in the first round of the June 21 NBA draft. They also have four second-round picks: Nos. 38, 39, 56 and 60. Smith would be a great option if the Sixers traded their 10th pick to move back a few slots in the draft.

Philly even asked him to come back for a second workout:

The 6-foot-5 Smith posted 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists his freshman season. He was focused on demonstrating shooting, decision-making and playmaking during his first workout.

“He’s got great length,” vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley said last week. “He’s a terrific, terrific athlete. He didn’t shoot the ball as well throughout the year, but he came in here today and shot it pretty well.”


Nuggets (#14)

 

The Nuggets NBA Insider, Chris Demsey, previews the top 30 prospects. Here is a part of his report:

“That’s crazy how things can change in one year,” said Smith after his pre-draft workout with the Nuggets. “But the hard work I put in, I’m kind of not surprised. But it’s a blessing to be in this position.”

Smith’s athleticism stands out.

In transition, he finishes with dunks as much as he can and runs the court like a track star. He’s almost always out in front of the fast break, ready to receive the pass and finish strong. Smith doesn’t always finish through resistance, but he does get fouled, and made 71 percent of his free throws.


Spurs (#18)

 

There are a lot of Red Raider fans hoping Zhaire is on the board still when the Spurs have the #18 pick. Here is a piece from the local San Antonio news website NBA draft profiles:

Offensively, Smith’s shot remains a work in progress. He barely attempted 3-pointers at the college level, a skill necessary for Smith to develop into a useful “3-and-D” player in the NBA. The fact is, Smith might not have NBA shooting range anytime soon.

What scouts like most about Smith: His motor never quits running. That is most evident on the defensive end, where Smith displayed the toughness and tenacity to fight through screens, while also the versatility to guard all five positions.

That persistence helps Smith on offense, too, where he often contributes the unheralded hustle plays that help win games.

Smith just turned 19 earlier this month, so there is room for him to blossom. If his offensive game grows more quickly than expected, Smith could outperform several players drafted ahead of him later this month.


Clippers (#12 & #13)

 


Hornets (#11)

 

The Charlotte Observer has a really good read on Zhaire:

ESPN’s Jay Bilas told the Observer this week that Smith’s athleticism is ‘tantalizingly good,’ something the Garland, Texas, native proved in May at the NBA draft combine in Chicago.

Both his standing vertical leap (33 inches) and max vertical (41 1/2 inches) were in the top 5 for all participants, and his countless put-back dunks during the season were proof of how those physical skills translate on the court.

But more than just on dunks and drives to the basket, Smith’s athleticism carries over to his defense. It allows him to shift and guard multiple positions, a valued asset in today’s switch-happy NBA that emphasizes positional versatility. Smith was the embodiment of that on defense at Texas Tech, and said Thursday it’s something he hopes will translate to the NBA.

“It’s gonna be great, since I hopefully can switch (on the defense) the one (point guard) through the four (power forward),” Smith said. “Right now in my mind I believe I can switch the one through the three (small forward), and I’m trying to expand that.”


Suns (#16)

 

There is a nice breakdown by Arizona Sports on how good a fit Zhaire is with the Phoenix Suns:

Focusing on his projected skills and size, Smith’s profile isn’t unprecedented for NBA success. Tony Allen is one of the best perimeter defenders the NBA has had in the past 15 years and he was the same height as Smith while not being much on offense.

The Suns could sure use a defensive ace on the perimeter who makes all the right little plays. The Suns could sure not use another player who can’t shoot.

Playing either behind or with Devin Booker, Smith could provide similar, balanced intangibles like Josh Jackson as a Booker running mate.

Beyond Booker and Jackson in the rotation, though, there’s T.J. Warren and I’m sure the Suns want to see more of last year’s second-round pick Davon Reed. Could the Suns use Smith as a defensive point guard while Booker runs the offense?


Knicks (#9)

 

The Knicks have a high pick in this Draft, but don’t count Zhaire out from being a surprise top 10 selection:

A 3-and-D wing is the greatest need that New York has in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Knicks were 23rd in defensive rating and 29th in threes made and attempted. Expect the defense to get better anyway under new head coach David Fizdale.

While Villanova’s Mikal Bridges is the favorite among fans–he looks able to contribute right away–Smith could end up doing the same things at a higher level sometime down the road. He’s armed with more upside than the 21-year-old Bridges, so it all depends on how big a risk Scott Perry and Steve Mills want to take in their first draft together.


Wizards (#15)

 

The Washington Post looks at three potential draft choices for the Wizards:

Although the Wizards have length and athleticism on the roster, these skills didn’t always translate on the defensive end. Specifically, on the perimeter where individual defense wavered and miscommunication ruined sets. Far too often opponents faced little resistance and were able to get better looks closer to the rim and Washington surrendered 45.4 points in the paint. Potential lottery pick Zhaire Smith can help address these defensive issues.

Though Smith’s game is raw, when lottery teams look at him, they will covet his upside. The Philadelphia 76ers, who own the 10th pick, recently brought in Smith for a second workout. Smith may not be around long enough for the Wizards to pick him, but if he slides then Washington can use his defense and athleticism immediately while he develops an offensive game.

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