In this year’s draft, the Boston Celtics will hold the rights to three separate selections. With one of them, they should seriously consider picking Maryland big man Jalen Smith.
Fans of the Houdini already know how big I am on the idea of the Boston Celtics selecting Jalen Smith with one of their three picks in this year’s NBA Draft — whenever that may be. Today, I’m merely reaffirming this idea.
The 20-year-old is projected to be picked somewhere in the mid-to-late 20’s in a majority of mock drafts, often landing with their historical rival, the Los Angeles Lakers at 29. With either the Memphis Grizzlies pick at 17 or, obviously far more preferable, with their own pick at 26th overall, Danny Ainge should make sure they are the ones who walk away with the big man.
In his sophomore year with the Maryland Terrapins, Smith turned himself into a fine collegiate starter to a sure-fire NBA prospect. Through 31 games in 2019-20, the big man put up impressive averages of 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game on 54 percent shooting from the floor and 37 percent shooting from deep on a respectable 2.8 attempts.
Showcasing a solid shooting stroke, a comfortability with putting the ball on the floor and an unbelievable feel for the game on defense, the forward/ center turned himself into his team’s most trusty player. With his production, Smith received honors of Big 10 All-Defensive Team, First-Team All-Big 10 and found himself on the All-American Third-Team.
At 6-10, his height is tailor-made in regard to the archetype of bigs Boston Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens prefers to roll out into a rotation.
His ability to play in the post as well as space the floor would work well with the scheme the shamrocks typically run while his defensive abilities would only add to their already menacing fourth-ranked defensive rating (106.2).
If selected it’s hard to believe that he’d come into 2020-21 as the team’s starting center, but that’s ok; their lackluster second-unit (29th in points per game, 27th in 3-point percentage and rank 22nd in offensive rating) could certainly use for more talents, and working in pick-and-roll/ pop scenarios with a guy like Marcus Smart could end up being a fascinating sight to see for C’s fans.
As mentioned in previous publications pertaining to the big man, his game is somewhat reminiscent of a young Chris Bosh during his days at Georgia Tech. And, like Bosh, Jalen Smith’s game could transition perfectly to the next level — and work wonders in a Stevens system — especially if he puts on some size (currently weighs in at 225 pounds) like Bosh wound up doing.
While it’s evident the team needs to bolster their front court talent — current core consists of Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter and Robert Williams — they should not add a center with a preferred back to the basket style of play like so many in this draft have. Frankly, they already roster enough of that with the likes of Kanter, Williams and first year passion project Tacko Fall.
Instead, they should strongly consider nabbing a multidimensional scorer with a fantastic defensive instinct and a high motor like Jalen Smith with, most preferably, their 26th or, if available, 30th selection in the 2020 NBA Draft.