Jalen Smith Scouting Report

Jalen Smith
Jalen Smith ranked at the 96th percentile among DI players for points per possession this past season. (Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

The trade to acquire Chris Paul gives Phoenix an impressive starting lineup, and the only player sent to Oklahoma City who provided major contributions to their undefeated run in the “Bubble” was Ricky Rubio. Going into the draft, the Suns appeared weakest at power forward; specifically, they had a need for a player who could bolster the club’s interior defense. Following the draft, the club signed free agent Jae Crowder and re-signed Dario Saric, and the presence of those two veterans means that Smith will likely get most of his rookie minutes at center as Deandre Ayton’s backup.

Position:PF/CTeam/Class:Maryland (So)  
Height:6’10”Weight:225 pounds
Shot Hand:RightStats:Click here

After starting at power forward as a freshman, Smith played almost exclusively at center this past season. He came to Maryland with the nickname of “Sticks” due to being ultra thin and having long arms and legs; however, he has significantly beefed up over the last two years, adding 30 pounds of muscle. His upper body is now very developed, but his legs remain on the skinny side. Smith is quick and agile for his size, and he plays with energy and effort. He also has good stamina, averaging more than 31 minutes per game last season in the physical Big Ten, a conference that was loaded with talented big men.

This past season, Smith was a first-team All-Big Ten and a Big Ten All-Defensive selection. He averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game, with excellent shooting splits of .538/.368/.750. He finished in the top 10 of the conference for numerous categories, including points per game, rebounds per game, true shooting percentage (62.6), PER (29.7 — 19th in DI), win shares (6.2 — 19th in DI), and BPM (12.0 — 4th in DI). The only major area where he did not post at least average numbers was passing; he averaged just 0.8 assists per game, with a dismal A/T ratio of 0.47.

Smith ranked at the 96th percentile for overall points per possession (PPP) this past season, with the majority of his half-court offense coming from post-ups, rolls and cuts to the basket, put-backs, and pick-and-pop plays. He also runs the floor well, and excelled in transition, ranking the 99th percentile for PPP. He features a smooth stroke, and vastly improved as a shooter as a sophomore, ranking at the 76th percentile for PPP with half-court jumpers this past season. The 20-year-old does not put the ball on the deck a lot, but he’s more than capable of attacking closeouts and going to the rim. He can finish with either hand, gets to the free-throw line often (4.8 times per game), and makes a solid percentage from the charity stripe.

In the post, Smith can be hampered by strong, physical players, likely due to a lack of lower-body strength. He’s probably at his best down low when he uses his quickness and attacks the rim off the bounce. He’s effective facing up, and can shoot hooks with either hand, though he is most efficient when turning with his right shoulder.

Defensively, Smith needs to continue to build up his lower body to play in the paint at the next level. Again, he plays with good energy and is not afraid to mix it up underneath the basket, but he can have a tough time getting leverage due to his build. On the perimeter, he can have trouble, like anyone his size, but he has relatively quick feet and lateral movement. In terms of PPP allowed, he ranked no worse than the 59th percentile when defending spot-up, pick-and-roll, and isolation plays last season.

— Richard Harris

Dustin Barnes’ Player Profile

Jalen Smith

Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements:  Stats used in our scouting reports mainly come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com.  Other outside sources are noted with links to the source. 


  • Richard C. Harris

    Richard has worked as a sports writer/editor/analyst since 1998, and is NBA credentialed. He has contributed to various magazines, radio shows, and a number of other sites, including ESPN.com, SI.com, and USAToday.com. He is the former CEO of FantasyFootballExperts.com and a former member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). He is currently the Managing Director at Hoops Prospects. Follow on Twitter @HoopsProspects.

  • Dustin Barnes

    Dustin is a teacher and Boys' Basketball Coach at Rabun Gap Nacoochee School in Rabun Gap, Georgia. He has trained and coached players in high school, college, and at the professional level for the past 10 years. He regularly tweets and posts NBA Draft content at @NBADraftBuzz1 on Instagram and Twitter.