With the college and professional basketball seasons in flux, it is a good time to discuss the NBA Draft. Jalen Smith is an intriguing prospect with great size and athleticism. There is no reason Smith should not enjoy a solid professional career.
Jalen Smith 2020 NBA Draft Profile
Jalen Smith, a Baltimore native, decided to stay home and attend the University of Maryland. Smith was expected to be a one-and-done lottery pick but last year did not go as expected. Smith was lanky and struggled to compete with bigs in the Big Ten. He relied a lot on his jump shot and struggled to rebound.
This year, Smith has improved drastically and put on about 30 pounds of muscle. Those two things are definitely related. Smith increased his scoring from 11.7 to 15.5 and his rebounds from 6.8 to 10.5 per game. Smith is shooting 54 percent from the field and 37 percent from three, both of which are major improvements from last season. He also earned All-Big Ten and All-Defense honors.
Coming into college, Smith was hyped for his inside-out abilities. He is a solid shooter, especially for a big. Smith has shown the ability to be a pick-and-pop player which is important for the NBA. What seemed to be just a mid-range shooter last year has become a 37 percent three-point shooter.
Forwards in today’s NBA are very athletic as the small-ball era is taking off. Smith is extremely athletic and fluid which will greatly help him in the NBA. Whichever team drafts him can utilize him as a small-ball five, assuming he puts on more muscle, or go with a huge lineup and play him at the four.
Smith is an elite shot blocker. He is averaging 2.4 blocks per game and has really controlled the paint for the Terrapins. Along with this, he is averaging 10.5 rebounds. Both of these are impressive, especially in the Big Ten.
Smith does still struggle with his lack of strength. He entered college around 200 pounds (generously) and will leave at 225 pounds. If he can add another 15 pounds, especially in his lower body, he will continue to improve.
With his lack of strength, Smith can struggle in the post and finishing through contact. He did not play his best game when defended by Xavier Tillman, a physical big. Smith can be moved off his spot and struggle to go through people. He does draw a lot of fouls, but they should be And-1s more often than not.
To elaborate on the post game, Smith seems to lack moves on the block. He is much more comfortable facing up, but to evolve as a player he will need to add at least two post moves. He cannot be that predictable in the league.
NBA Player Comparison
Serge Ibaka. Smith is not quite as good defensively as a young Ibaka, but the offensive games are nearly identical. Smith definitely has a role in the league and should have a nice career.
NBA Draft Projection
Late first-round pick.
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