The San Antonio Spurs are slowly finding themselves outside of the lottery looking in as this season turns to a new calendar year. The Spurs might be finding their best lineups and that has led to some better play and some wins. They are now in the 15-18 pick range and if they continue to figure things out this season, that could very well change.
For now, we will soldier on as if the Spurs will be picking at 15 in this year’s draft. With that being said, a prospect they should get a good look at is Maryland sophomore Jalen Smith. He was mentioned as one of our lottery prospects to watch before the season, but it looks like he might fall closer in the Spurs’ range now.
The 6-foot-10, 225-pound big man has made some strides in his second season as a Terp. Enough to warrant mid-first round consideration. Here are some of his stats so far this season to back that up.
- 13.5 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 0.9 SPG
- 50 FG%, 32.1 3P%, 74.7 FT%
- 119.4 ORtg, 81 DRtg
Smith is an excellent defender, especially at the rim where his long reach allows him to cover a lot of ground. He has gotten stronger and added weight to his frame in order to guard the bigger players of the NBA, but is still quick enough to guard forwards if called upon to do so. He’s a good athlete with a great defensive motor that rebounds the ball incredibly well.
An area of improvement for Smith is going to be on the offensive end of the floor. He can be passive on offense at times despite being such a big presence for the Terrapins. When he plays aggressively and actively hunts for his shot, he is a dangerous player on the floor. He is not exactly a playmaker but can create some of his own offense out of the post. He definitely has to work on creating for his teammates, but he is not by any means a selfish player.
What he does well offensively is rebound the ball as he averages almost four offensive boards a game. He is a solid shooter with a good shooting form that only needs slight tweaks. He’s improved his three-point shooting this season, which is definitely a good indicator of how he can translate to the next level.
He will have to continue to make strides offensively but could be a solid NBA backup or good starter in the G-League from the jump.