ZHAIRE SMITH 2018 NBA Draft Scouting Report
COLLEGE: TEXAS TECH
WEIGHT: 195 POUNDS
POSITION: SHOOTING GUARD
PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: LATE LOTTERY TO LOW 20’S (RISING RAPIDLY UP DRAFT BOARDS)
In a 2018 NBA Draft class that’s as loaded with a level of talent that we haven’t seen in quite some time, it’s easy to overlook someone like Zhaire Smith from Texas Tech, especially since his 11.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game won’t floor anyone at first glance.
But Smith has been one of the fastest-rising prospects in the nation all year, as the rest of the country has gotten to further witness all of his athletic talents.
In fact, the key to Smith’s game is his athleticism. He’s the bouncy, high-flying guy who can slam home dunks and chase down blocks on the fast break, despite standing only 6’5 himself. He’ll crash the glass on offense, and run the floor like a gazelle on defense.
When the ball is in his hands, Smith can score off the dribble, or he can shoot it from nearly any spot on the floor. He shows clean mechanics, comprising a compact release and a smooth form, which provides a glimpse of what he could do at the next level as a shooter. In fact, he generally seems more comfortable from shooting it from further away, as opposed to hanging out in the generally inefficient mid-range area.
He’s not necessarily a great ball-handler himself, but he does show a knack for setting up teammates with timely passes, and has the upside to turn into a secondary facilitator on offense. Opposing teams could be lulled to sleep because of the fact that he plays more like a wing player, but he has a sneaky ability to play with a guard’s mindset.
But where teams are really going to fall in love with him is on defense. Given his athletic tool-set, he is going to fit in perfectly with the switch-heavy mentality that the NBA is moving towards, but he can also hang back closer to the rim and pull down rebounds.
He is a tenacious defender with fast feet, long limbs, and a non-stop motor. All three of those allow him to stick to his man like he’s their shadow. He’ll run through screens, fight through switches, and close out through the very last second on shooting attempts. It doesn’t matter who that guy is, either; Smith can legitimately guard all five positions on the floor, and has done so against the best competition the Big 12 had to offer last season.
The big knock on Smith right now is that “his mind” is catching up to his body. Simply put, he’s more of an athletic talent at the moment than a polished, NBA prospect. While he does get by on his athleticism quite a bit, at 6’5″ and weighing under 200lbs (for now), there’s also the question as to whether his defensive abilities will translate at the next level (even if though his effort clearly will). But simply put: he’s still got a lot of room for development.
With this improving three-point shot (he hit 45% from three this past season), Smith absolutely a chance to be a three-and-D-type player that’s so highly coveted at the next level.