Jalen Smith is a 6’10 225 pound center from the university of Maryland. If you try and think of the ideal old fashion center what do you think of? A guy who can protect the rim, a guy with great touch around the rim, and a guy who can always be a lob threat. These are all loss elements in the center position because of floor spacing and the evolution of centers extending their range. Well Jalen is that old fashion center with some range. In his last year at Maryland Jalen averaged 15.5 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.4 BPG, shooting 54% from the field and 37% from 3. My current NBA comparison is Serge Ibaka for reasons I’ll explain in the next paragraph.
Strengths: Like Ibaka in OKC, Jalen is a very aggressive shot blocker but is very good at not committing fouls. Jalen is arguably the best rim protector in this draft and will translate over to the NBA very quickly. If you were to up his BPG to 40 minutes he would average 3.0 BPG. The man runs very well for his size, he knows how to run to court very well and could beat most NBA centers down the court. Another ability that will make his transition easy is the point he’s a really big lob threat, with his athleticism gives him the potential to be a very lethal threat to the opposing defense. Jalen was one of the best rebounders in the country last year and he loves to clean the offensive boards and create more opportunities for his team. His lateral quickness makes defense go insane because they cannot run PnR with a guard because Jalen could 100% stop them with his quickness. As I stated before Jalen has a really good touch around the rim and he’s efficient as well, one of the best paint scorers in the country. Did I mention yet he has handles? Well Jalen is a very good ball handler for his size and could become a “grab and go guy” that means when he grabs the rebound he can just go coast to coast without passing the ball. Wow here’s another thing that’s crazy about Jalen, his 3 point shooting potential. Yes the man can also shoot, this might be something that could really turn him into a top 10 center in a couple of years. His ability to shoot helps spacing and he’s very confident from downtown, he attempted around 3- 3 pointers per game shooting 37% from there. Yeah Jalen can do it all and I truly think where he is currently projected is a crime and also shows how good this draft class really is.
Weaknesses: These weaknesses can be fixed very easily by good NBA coaches, it’s nothing too incriminating but they’re good enough to make him drop to where he is right now. At 6’10 Jalen is a gigantic human being but his weight is kinda on the lower half of the spectrum. If he really wants to be dominant he needs to add more weight, now there’s nothing wrong with his frame, his frame is perfect he just needs to add more weight. In most clips I’ve seen he hits the floor very often and gets bodied, he likes absorbing the contact and not putting it into other players. Jalen lacks vision as a passer, Jalen needs to improve on this to be a better team player. He’s shown flashes of being a good passer at times but they aren’t consistent enough. His post game isn’t the greatest and relies on his above average athleticism to get to the rim.
Verdict: I see Jalen as a mid to late round pick this year but 100% will be a steal wherever he gets taken. If a really good coaching staff can help this kid tap into his full potential he can be a higher ceiling Andre Drummond with a jump shot. I could see him being top 5 in BPG next year, I could see him in the top 10 in RPG. Jalen can be great with a few adjustments but I think he could take over as soon as he steps onto a NBA court.