Could the OKC Thunder buy into the high school hype around Nick Smith Jr after a rocky Arkansas stint?
Nick Smith Jr is an interesting case study as he had a rocky season at Arkansas after being a highly touted high school prospect. Smith Jr’s skill is undeniable, and there is a huge reason to believe whatever shortcomings he had at Arkansas can be chalked up to the injuries he dealt with all year. In 17 games, the Razorback posted 12 points, a rebound, an assist, and nearly a steal per game on 37/31/74 shooting splits.
Synergy places Smith Jr in the 38th percentile in overall offense, 19th percentile in transition, 44th percentile in the half-court, and an alarming 34th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball handler. Smith Jr thrived as a spot-up scorer, went 9-for-11 on cuts, and shot 34 percent on catch-and-shoot looks. That number is upgraded to 48 percent on unguarded catch-and-shoot attempts. The Razorback was tabbed as average on dribble jumpers and at the rim, with shot selection and his frame being a concern at the next level.
Through 17 college games, Nick Smith Jr did not look like an NBA Lottery pick. This 2023 NBA Draft is deep enough to see better value on the board at pick 12 than gambling on Smith Jr’s high school tape. Nick Smith Jr is listed at 6’5 with a 6’8 wingspan, coming in at 185 pounds.
Ultimately, no matter who Sam Presti goes with, the OKC Thunder’s history at pick 12 should comfort fans entering next week’s NBA Draft. These are just three names I would stay away from with this selection. Each of them still earned a first-round grade from me, but pick 12 is a bit too rich for my blood.