Nick Smith Jr. 2023 NBA Draft Scouting Profile
Nick Smith Jr. 2023 NBA Draft Scouting Profile
- Height/Weight/Age: 6’5″/185 lbs/19-years-old
- Primary Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard
- Freshman Season Stats: 12.5 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 37.6% FG, 33.8% 3P, 74.0 FT%, 0.8 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 1.6 TOPG
Strengths: Craftiness, Touch, Pull-Up Jump-Shooting
Nick Smith Jr. is a slippery, slithery, smooth operator in the lane. He’s got a fluid handle and has every dribble move and counter in the book. He lacks elite burst and explosiveness but he’s quick, shifty, and has great change in pace.
Nick Smith Jr is one of the most talented shot-makers and shot-creators in the entire draft.— Global Scouting (@GlobalScouting_) April 30, 2023
He’s a skilled scorer that plays with great pace and can play at different speeds. Has a shifty handle and a variety of different moves in his bag. pic.twitter.com/RO7VLg5XWj
Nick Smith Jr is a great shot-creator with a ton of creativity off the bounce. Has a ton of wiggle and advanced footwork as a ball-handler. He does a great job of creating his own shot. I love his overall craft and change of pace. Not focused about the missed shot in this clip. pic.twitter.com/ysZgdUfseY— Global Scouting (@GlobalScouting_) March 6, 2023
My favorite aspect of Smith Jr.’s game is his pillow-soft touch. His touch on floaters and runners is absolutely insane. He can finish with both hands on those shots and only needs a sliver of space to get those shots off. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that Smith Jr. has one of the best floaters and some of the best touch I’ve ever seen.
Nick Smith Jr has some of the best touch amongst all prospects in the draft. He has an elite floater in the lane. Can finish off one or two feet in the lane. Has some creativity as a finisher. In love with his scoring instincts. pic.twitter.com/wqJV5JDqkR— Global Scouting (@GlobalScouting_) April 30, 2023
Finally, Smith Jr. is a tough pull-up jump-shooter who doesn’t need a ton of space to get his shot off. He’s got a lightning-quick release and can drain his shot from anywhere. Teams at the next level should be able to create instant offense with him out of pick-and-rolls and dribble handoffs.
Watching Nick Smith Jr. vs. Texas A&M and the first thing that pops off the screen is how quick and shifty he is— LG Hoops (@hoops_lg) March 11, 2023
He’s got a jumper, floater, and strong athleticism that will make him an ELITE scorer in the NBA pic.twitter.com/qSrskN2K5K
Weaknesses: Defense, Playmaking, Shot Selection
My primary concern about Smith Jr.’s game at the NBA level is how he’ll be picked on defensively. He’s long, standing at 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, but has a real slight frame at 185 pounds. He’ll be picked on as a point-of-attack defender by even average-sized guards because of the strength disparity.
Another big concern about Smith Jr. is his playmaking. He won’t be a lead ball-handler at the next level, mostly because I don’t know if he has the playmaking chops right now. Smith Jr. has this tendency to play with his head down a bit where he gets straight-scoring tunnel vision.
He doesn’t make great reads when teams send help defenders. He’s just not a polished passer and decision-maker yet. Last season he averaged just 1.7 APG and posted a 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Nevertheless, I expect Smith Jr. to develop in this department once he reaches the NBA. His handle is too filthy, and he operates too well in the lane to not develop into being at least an average playmaker.
Perhaps the biggest concern about Smith Jr.’s game is his efficiency, shot selection and lack of rim pressure. Smith Jr. posted an abysmal 47.2 true shooting percentage last season. That’s mostly because of all the contested jump shots and difficult floaters he was taking in the mid-range.
He struggled with efficiency because he struggles to create real rim pressure with his lack of explosiveness. Smith Jr. is going to have to be a deadly tough shot-maker at the next level to be efficient as a scorer.
The lack of rim pressure is my biggest concern for Nick Smith Jr.— Global Scouting (@GlobalScouting_) April 30, 2023
He struggles to beat defenders in a straight line which often forces him to settle for a floater or pull-up (shot under 40% inside the arc). He struggles finishing through contact due to his lack of strength and… pic.twitter.com/fwypWW3Oe5
Best NBA Fit: Raptors, Pelicans, Grizzlies
Smith Jr. needs to go somewhere where he doesn’t immediately have to be a lead ball-handler and can just focus on getting buckets. His ideal immediate role is as a sixth man or spark plug off the bench. For these reasons, I think Toronto, New Orleans and Memphis are all logical landing spots for Smith.
Toronto seems destined for a rebuild and desperately needs half-court creation, especially with the impending free agency of Fred VanVleet. New Orleans needs more creation off the bench and Smith Jr. could step in and immediately get buckets. Memphis also needs half-court creation and Smith Jr. complements both Ja Morant and Tyus Jones.
NBA Comparison: C.J. McCollum
McCollum is the highest-end comparison for Smith Jr. where he absolutely maxes out. Both are undersized guards who lack elite athleticism but who are crafty enough to get buckets from everywhere on the court. A lower-end comparison for Smith Jr. would be someone like Bones Hyland. Slighter-framed spark plug guards off the bench who can score from anywhere on the floor.
Draft Projection: Mid-First Round
Smith Jr. will be selected somewhere between the tail end of the lottery and the middle of the first round. His red flags are massive, and the deficiencies in his game are real. But so are his star traits and his upside as a shot creator. It’s hard to predict a career trajectory for a young prospect who has so much room to grow and develop.
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