2023 NBA Mock Draft: Spurs land franchise PG, tanking pays off for Pistons
Nick Smith Jr. falling this far down our draft board isn’t so much an indictment of him or his game as it is a testament to how good the rest of the draft class is. I wasn’t quite as high on Smith as others were coming into the season due to worries about his very slim build and defensive efficacy, and now that the draft is drawing closer, I still have those concerns.
Similar to Keyonte George, Smith was labeled as an elite shot creator coming into the college basketball season, and his elite touch on his floaters indicates that such a label could be warranted, but his scoring talent is still largely theoretical. Injuries held Smith out for an extended period of time that likely had some kind of impact on his efficiency, but even with a clean bill of health I’m not particularly confident that he’ll be able to get away with a significant chunk of his below-the-rim scoring in the paint at the next level.
If there's a team that really believes in his touch, Smith could be selected anywhere in the mid to late 1st round. But if teams are scared that he won't be able to put on enough muscle to bang bodies in the paint and become more efficient, I see a Jaden Hardy-like slide on draft night in his future.