The Bucks are looking for difference makers to surround their MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. Fortunately for them this draft class is stacked with players that can impact immediately at the next level. One of those prospects is the electric Texas Tech freshman Zhaire Smith. Smith jumped onto the scene relatively surprisingly as he showcased an explosive skill-set that translates well in the up-tempo style of play the Bucks thrive in. Is Smith the right fit? Let’s take a look.
College: Texas Tech University (Freshman)
Hometown: Garland, TX
Stats & Accolades:
11.3 PPG / 5.0 RPG / 1.8 APG
2018 Big 12 Honorable Mention
2018 Big 12 All-Defensive team
If you threw on Smith’s tape (please click that link) from his season at Texas Tech, the first words you would utter is WOW! Smith is a phenomenal athlete that has pogo stick type of bounce. Smith is his best in an up-tempo system where he can use his explosiveness to win battles against defenders getting back on defense. It’s not all athleticism for Smith as he constantly fills the correct lane and is aware of spacing. In the half court Smith is active setting screens for his teammates which allow him to get open because of his activity. He has shown major strides in his jump shot in offseason workouts, showing that he can step out to the NBA three and knock it down. Smith can really pass the ball because of his high IQ as he reads plays before they appear. Smith can lock it down on the defensive end of the floor using his quick hands and feet to either close out or cut off drivers to the rim. Smith has a long wingspan that allows him to be a pest defensively whether defending guards or when switched out onto big. Smith has plenty of room to go as he turns 19 only today! (June 4)
– Consistent Jump shooting
– Separation moves
The biggest question mark with Smith is his consistency shooting the rock. With the NBA moving more and more to 3&D players it’s important that he focuses on that jump shot. He did not shoot many three’s in college only averaging 1.1 attempts per contest. It was apparent that he wasn’t comfortable with his shot so he often fell into his comfort zone blowing past bad college defenders. He has the length that you want at the NBA level, but it will be important for him to live in the weight room as the increased physicality will match his athleticism. Although he has a strong basketball IQ he lacks great handling ability that can separate himself from leeching defenders at the next level.
Role on Bucks
Smith is being seen as a potential option depending on what proceeds the Bucks pick at #17. Smith is a bit of a project offensively rounding out his game, but immediately would get some clock because of his defensive ability. Smith would be able to contribute offensively at the start with his transition game and wouldn’t necessarily kill you in the half court as he has to keep you honest on close outs with his first step. As he gains more experience and we can gauge where he is at with his jump shot there is potential for Smith to be a starting level combo guard. He needs to work on his ball handling if he wants to be able to set up the offense. With the Bucks looking to stack talent to work alongside Antetokounmpo Smith would certainty add a versatile player to the mix in a bench role immediately and potentially a starter in the future.