Philadelphia 76ers

Sixers Draft Preview: Jalen Smith

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Is it really that time already? With the NBA season still on it’s health-related hiatus, basketball fans have taken it upon themselves to start looking at what the NBA draft could shape up to look like.

While the Sixers obviously won’t be in the running for the top-tier prospects like James Wiseman or Lamelo Ball, there’s plenty of value to be had later down the draft board. Projected to pick in the early 20s and twice towards the top of the second round, the 76ers could fill a lot of holes this summer.

Over the next couple of weeks (months?) I’ll be taking a look at who the 76ers are most likely to select with some of their picks. Starting first with a player straight out of the school I currently attend.


Jalen Smith, Power Forward

University of Maryland

Strengths: perimeter shooting, shot-blocking, athleticism

Weaknesses: size, post defense, post offense

2019-20 College Stats: 15.5PTS, 10.5REB, 2.4BLK


After a pretty average first season with the Terrapins, Jalen Smith’s name began skyrocketing up on draft boards with a breakout season his sophomore year. Showcasing a much improved jump shot and more overall activity around the rim, Smith carried Maryland into the national spotlight.

While a majority of scouts were waiting to see how the young power forward would look in the NCAA tournament before declaring him a “first round talent”, his unique abilities make him a prime candidate to sneak his way into the first 32 picks. Shooting 36.8% from three and 75% from the free throw line while standing at 6’ 10”, Smith is the ideal image of what a “stretch four” should look like.

Seeing as I am a student at the University of Maryland, I got to witness firsthand some of Smith’s best games in college. I don’t necessarily consider myself a “Terp” fan, so I’m confident in delivering a pretty unbiased review on the 20 year old.


-pretty shooting motion

-above average quickness for someone of his size

-looked uncomfortable as the #1 option on offense

-good shot blocker


Nicknamed “Stix” for his skinny demeanor, Smith is listed at just 225lbs. With such a small frame, he’s nowhere near ready to operate as a stereotypical “big” in today’s NBA. Even in college Smith would regularly get pushed around anytime he entered the post. The idea of him guarding a guy like Kristaps Porzingis in the NBA is laughable.

With that said, his shooting motion is quite impressive for a guy of his size. Smith always looked the most comfortable when spotting up from three or in the midrange. While this drove college basketball fans crazy at the time, this translates beautifully into a potential NBA career.

His overall athleticism, shot blocking ability, and aggressiveness going after rebounds are also worth nothing.

Despite the Maryland basketball program struggling at producing legit NBA talent in recent history (Bruno Fernando… Kevin Huerter…), Smith appears to have an above average amount of upside.


Conclusion

In recent years, the Sixers have placed an emphasis on repeatedly drafting the “best player available”, as opposed to drafting for need. While this has worked at times (see Matisse Thybulle), at some point the organization needs to hamper down and start adding some young floor spacers.

While Smith likely isn’t a first round talent all things considered, the potential to pair a young and athletic shooter next to Joel Embiid down low is appealing. Being so undersized weight-wise, Smith could really focus on becoming more of a “D and three” type wing player, emphasizing his elite lateral quickness and speed, while continuing to develop his jumper.

Entering a team like the Sixers who already have a plethora of ball dominant players could also really allow Smith to relax and focus on growing his game early in his career, as opposed to having to carry a lottery-type team.

Smith is definitely a bit of a project, and likely won’t look great early in his NBA career, but his overall upside might be too much for the 76ers to pass on.


Check out some of the recent entires in our other Sixers-related series running at the moment:

“Rewinding the Process”: https://phillysportsnetwork.com/2020/04/05/reviewing-the-process-michael-carter-williams-fall-from-stardom/

“Season in Review”https://phillysportsnetwork.com/2020/04/06/season-in-review-kyle-oquinn/

Mandatory Credit – © Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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David is a 20 year old college student at the University of Maryland. A lifelong Philadelphia sports fan who started covering the teams back in late May of 2019. After just a few months of writing for fun on a personal blog, he now reports on the 76ers for PhillySportsNetwork.com and the Phillies for Fansided.com.

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