NBA Draft prospect Jalen Smith of Maryland has a great chance to jump into the lottery based on the way he’s talking about the San Antonio Spurs franchise.
Flattery isn’t what’s going to make a draft candidate stick out to the San Antonio Spurs — It’s honesty and humility. That’s what NBA Draft prospect Jalen Smith is showing during the pre-draft process. A 6-foot-10 power forward who can easily play the small-ball five, Smith is a great example of how the modern game can translate for bigs.
Primarily, Smith’s game is oriented for interior scoring. He’s a great post player who knows how to use the fundamentals of the game and his physical profile to his advantage. On the flip side, Smith knows what it takes to make it in the modern game and has adapted wonderfully. Smith is a knockdown 3-point shooter for a player of his size and handles the ball better than anyone at his size should.
Player comparisons always need to be taken with a grain of salt, but the playstyle and upside of Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam is comparable to the 20-year-old Smith.
Jalen Smith on #Spurs: "They really develop their players and make sure that they are learning at the speed they want them. They have their style of play that is recognized around the whole league. It would be an honor to be drafted for the Spurs and to play for coach Popovich."
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) September 28, 2020
While speaking with esteemed Spurs beat reporter Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News, Smith revealed that he had introductory conversations with representatives of the Spurs months ago and seems to have a strong interest in the team. The player development aspect of being a San Antonio Spurs player intrigued him and the chance to play under head coach Gregg Popovich is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
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He went on to speak on his ability to impact the game defensively. Smith made the case that every NBA team has players who can score, but not every team has players who can defend. His defensive intensity is the aspect of his game that could create an immediate impact on the silver and black.
From what’s being said, it sounds like Smith falls into the category of young players who just get it. Maybe that’s not the most nuanced way to put it, but some people understand what it takes to make it in the league and others don’t. From what I’m gathering, Smith doesn’t expect to enter the league and immediately become one of the top scorers. However, Smith is confident in his ability to make an impact with his most useful and crucial skill — Defending. Not only is that something every team could benefit from, but the Spurs, in particular, need a boost in that area.
During the course of the regular season, the San Antonio Spurs’ defensive rating was 112.6 — 24h in the NBA and the worst of the Popovich era. They need impact players like rookie Keldon Johnson who have the wherewithal to immediately improve their team on that end.
Smith, who could easily be a trade-back candidate for the silver and black, can bring the same.