Looking at potential future Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Smith.
The Atlanta Hawks have taken a Maryland Terrapin in each of the last two drafts, selecting Kevin Huerter in 2018 and Bruno Fernando in 2019. If they want to make it a third straight year of doing so, they could take a look at sophomore big man Jalen Smith.
Smith, who started alongside Fernando last season, made major strides in his second season, becoming the best player on a 24-7 Maryland team. Smith was named to the All-Big Ten First Team and the All-Big Ten Defensive Team.
Accordingly, he shot up draft boards as the season went on, even breaking into the teens on some mocks. A strong March Madness tournament could have moved him up even more, but of course, that was unfortunately canceled.
There is a lot to like about Smith’s game. He’s a great athlete, a fantastic receiver of lobs, and can finish put-backs with grace. He can create his own looks as well in the post, flashing old school post scoring capabilities at times.
His floor-spacing can definitely be improved upon, but he held his own in college. He raised his three-point percentage from 26 percent as a freshman to 36 percent as a sophomore.
Rebounding is Smith’s greatest strength, and he pulled down over ten per game last season. He has nice size at the four and brings robust athleticism as well. He uses both of those to his advantage on the boards.
While the 2020 NBA Draft class is mostly dominated by guards, there a few power forwards battling Smith for positioning. Obi Toppin and Onyeka Okongwu are likely top-ten picks, and Smith very well could be the third off the board.
Fit with the Atlanta Hawks:
Smith could potentially be a long-term back up to John Collins, and their playstyles aren’t that different. Obviously, the Hawks run a fast-paced offense with an emphasis on threes, and Smith could fit right into that.
He’s a solid athlete and underrated shot creator and should carve out a solid career in the NBA as a role player. The Hawks could use his two-way talent from day one as they hope to turn their losing ways around.
Should the Atlanta Hawks draft Jalen Smith?