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2018 NBA Draft Player Profile: Zhaire Smith

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Zhaire Smith Has The Potential To Blossom On Both Ends Of The Floor.

Iowa State v Texas Tech Photo by John Weast/Getty Images

Zhaire Smith is a versatile wing that played one season at Texas Tech and averaged 11.3 points and 5 rebounds per game. He is more of an “off the ball” guard who is also a pretty good defender, being named an honorable mention for the Big 12 all defensive team. The really impressive numbers come when you look at his 3 point shooting at 45% (albeit a small sample size) and an eFG% at 58.8%. Those numbers are very impressive number for a guard and could make Smith a niche player with a very long career in the NBA at the very least. With that being said, he also could have a fairly large role on a contending team with the right work ethic and development.

College Stats

Texas Tech v Villanova Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Strengths

  1. Versatile. At 6’5” he could play the 2 or 3 in certain matchups, especially against other small ball lineups. Although he did not have great assist numbers in college, he is a capable ball handler and pretty good at setting other teammates up. He only had 1.1 turnovers per game in college with the ball in his hands a decent amount of time. He can spot up shoot and also can put the ball on the floor and finish around the rim.
  2. Good Defender. Named as an honorable mention to the Big 12 all defensive team. Rarely out of position or overmatched on defense, which is a pretty big deal when playing against other guards in the Big 12. Also, he is a good help/weakside defender.
  3. Capable Scorer. Smith only averaged 11.3 points per game in college, but it seems that he has the potential to score more if asked to. Especially if he can continue to develop his shot and shoot anywhere above 40% from 3 point range like he did in college.

Weaknesses

  1. Not A Great Passer. He did not have great assist numbers at Texas Tech and although he is not a point guard, he may need to develop the ability to pass and look for other teammates up in order to thrive at the pro level. It remains to be seen if he will be able work within an offense that shares the ball a lot, such as the Utah Jazz, or if he will turn into a ball stopper on offense and become one dimensional.
  2. Not Great At Creating Own Shot. Smith played most as an off the ball guard in college and showed flashes of being able to create by getting to the basket. However, he is more of a spot up shooter at this point than anything else. He will need to continue to work on his ability to get to the basket in order to reach his full potential against better competition.

Utah Jazz Fit

I think a player like Smith could be an excellent fit as a 2/3 backup to Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio. I think if he continues to develop and reach his full potential, I think he could eventually start next to Donovan Mitchell. While watching college highlights of him he reminds me a little bit of Klay Thompson. Now obviously that is a lofty comparison and not fair to expect that, but I think if Smith has the work ethic that he could become very good in his own right.

Likelihood of the Jazz drafting him

Smith is actually projected to be taken in most mock drafts at a slightly higher position than where the Jazz are picking. It is not out of the realm of possibility that he falls to the Jazz or they move up in the draft to take him. Whether the Jazz will move up or not is impossible to know for sure, but I think that they would be very thrilled if a player like that fell to them at the number 21 pick. Depending on how the workout goes, I’m sure that this is a type of player that the Jazz would love to add and try to develop going forward.

Sources: Draft Express, Sports Reference, Basketball Insiders