As part of WEEI’s coverage of the 2018 NBA Draft here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have one pick, the 27th overall. The draft will be held on June 21.
School: Texas Tech
Weight: 200 pounds
2017-18 Stats: 11.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.8 apg
Scouting Report: Smith is considered to be one of the most athletic players in this year’s draft. He has the third-highest max vertical leap (45-inches) and the second-fasted three quarter sprint in the class. Smith complements his athleticism with raw skill and the ability to play tenacious defense. He gives shooters very little air space to get a shot off. Smith’s quickness makes him a good on-ball defender who can stick with his man and catch up with opponents who beat him off the dribble. He owns a 6.4 defensive plus-minus rating, similar to what Marcus Smart does for the Celtics, and Smith’s strong base allows him to fight for position against bigger players.
With a high basketball IQ combined with a high motor, Smith does a solid job with helping his team trade good shots for great shots on offense, and is always a threat to grab the offensive rebound for a put back.
Although scouts see promising talent, Smith can be reluctant to shoot, something that is frowned upon in today’s league. His shot is also considered a work in progress. Because of this, he is not seen as a player who will be a No. 1 scoring option right away, although coaches have raved about his work ethic. If this is true, Smith could show development offensively like Jaylen Brown, an athletic slasher who develops fluidity in his shot later.
Notes: Smith has jumped up the board in recent weeks. With the Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell slipping to No. 13 in last year’s draft, teams are wary about avoiding a pass up on another guard with promising speed, athleticism, and frame. Smith fits this profile well.
A comparison (per Sporting News) of Mitchell and Smith’s freshman seasons in college reviewed their stats per 40 minutes. Smith showcased numbers much like Mitchell while having the lower usage rate. With a usage of 18.3 (Mitchell a 20.9), Smith averaged 15.9 points, seven rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.6 blocks in 40 minutes. Mitchell’s numbers per 40 at Louisville rounded out to 15.5 points, 3.5 assists, seven rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 0.2 blocks.
Smith is considered by some scouts to be a long term project, but because teams with mid-first round picks are high on his potential, it is unlikely that he will fall to the Celtics at 27. For Smith to slip that far, teams would have to be significantly discouraged by his lack of an offensive arsenal outside of driving to the hoop.
Full article @ 2018 Potential Celtics: Texas Tech G Zhaire Smith
Source: GreenStreet Blog