Weight: 225 pounds
After sharing a frontcourt with current Hawks center Bruno Fernando as a freshman, Jalen Smith started at center his sophomore season and starred for a 24-7 Maryland team.
Smith averaged a double-double, posting 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, and he also improved his shooting, hitting 36.8 percent from three-point range and 75 percent from the foul line.
Smith’s game is well suited for the modern NBA. He’s a stretch four, perhaps a stretch five in some lineups, who can protect the rim. The Baltimore, Maryland, native blocked 2.4 shots per game this season and is good at mirroring his man in the post.
Though his shot is his clearest NBA tool offensively, Smith does show some promise both posting up and facing up. He can drive past slower defenders and create separation with spin moves and hesitations.
This year, Smith finished in the Big Ten’s top 10 in offensive rebounding percentage and defensive rebounding percentage, one indication of his impressively consistent effort. He’s tireless in running the floor and he sprints well for his size.
He isn’t much of a passer, which is a little concerning given he’ll be a pick-and-pop guy at the next level. When the jumper isn’t available, he needs to get better at making the right read and keeping the offense moving.
Defensively, Smith tends to look overmatched when he encounters smaller players on the perimeter. And against NBA frontcourt players, his strength might be an issue. He has a bit of a narrow frame and it would probably be helpful if he added muscle on his legs.
One wonders if the advantage of him drawing a legitimate center away from the hoop offensively will be worth the downside of him ceding position in the post on defense. There’d be nothing wrong with Smith ending up as exclusively a stretch four, but he’d have more value if he can hold his own vs. centers.
The Sixers don’t especially need power forwards, so they shouldn’t be thinking about Smith in the first round. If he slips into the second round, he’d likely merit consideration. (The Sixers would pick at No. 22 if the current standings hold. They have four second-round selections, including No. 34 and No. 36.)
Outside shooting and rim protection are qualities every team would like to have, and the youngest bench big man currently on the Sixers’ roster is 27-year-old Norvel Pelle. It also doesn’t usually hurt to surround Ben Simmons with players who shoot and run well for their position like Smith.
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