From an individual standpoint, Smith had a big 2016-17 season. He averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists in his freshman year.
Sports Illustrated‘s Jake Fischer noted the connection between Smith and the Mavericks:
According to ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon, Smith won Dallas over during his individual workout:
Rotoworld’s Michael Gallagher believes Smith could make an immediate impact:
Smith’s performance wasn’t enough to keep North Carolina State from tying its fewest wins (15) since 2010-11. And as is the case to a certain extent with Markelle Fultz, some question whether the Wolfpack’s record was a reflection of Smith.
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman didn’t point the finger at Smith for North Carolina State’s poor year but wrote possible off-court concerns are a problem for the talented guard:
“Smith isn’t to blame for North Carolina State’s 15-17 record, but he didn’t do the greatest job of selling himself as a future NBA leader. One executive questioned if he could lead, referring to him as ‘quiet and moody.’ Vulnerable to making the lazy play, taking the wild shot or getting caught flat-footed, Smith could stand to improve his overall concentration and decision-making. Still, he clearly knows the game.”
Potential intangible issues aside, there’s no question Smith has the talent to thrive in the NBA. His performance against Duke in an 84-82 road win on Jan. 23 provided a snapshot into his overall game. Smith scored 32 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out six assists:
Smith’s ability to create his own shot and run an offense bodes well for his future in the NBA, where the Chris Paul model of point guard is becoming increasingly rare. It won’t be enough for Smith to set his teammates up to score; he’ll need to score at a relatively high volume himself, too.
With that in mind, it will be important for Smith to improve as a shooter. He showed some range at NC State but didn’t connect consistently enough from beyond the arc. He was a 35.9 percent shooter from three-point territory.
The 2017 NBA draft wasn’t short in promising point guards, with Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball two of the best players overall in this year’s draft class.
Although Fultz and Ball overshadowed Smith to a certain extent, the Wolfpack star should have a lengthy, productive NBA career ahead.
Both Seth Curry and Yogi Ferrell were pleasant surprises for the Mavericks this past season. Based on Curry’s NBA career to date and Ferrell’s inexperience, counting on them to continue their respective success into 2017-18 and beyond is risky.
In Smith, Dallas potentially has its point guard of the future.
Even team owner Mark Cuban admitted to throwing the rest of the year away once the Mavs were out of the playoff race. Rather than continuing to spend big on free agents such as Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews, Dallas would be better off in the long term by embracing a rebuild, with Smith among those at the center of the efforts.
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