Nick Smith Jr. NBA Draft Analysis

May 18, 2023, 3:14 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2023, 3:14 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz own three first-round selections in the 2023 NBA draft, and one of the players they’ll consider in June is Arkansas guard Nick Smith Jr.

With a top 10 pick, the 16th pick, and the 28th pick in the first round, the Jazz will work out an enormous swath of players projected to be selected throughout the draft.

Let’s look at how potential lottery pick NIck Smith Jr. performed in his lone season at Arkansas, and how he’d fit with the Jazz.

Nick Smith Jr. Strengths

Averages: 12.5 ppg | 1.6 RPG | 1.7 APG | 37 FG% | 33 3Pt % | 74 FT%

A top-three recruit in the country coming out of high school, Smith Jr. had a difficult year at Arkansas largely due to fit and injuries, but still managed to flash enough potential to put him in the conversation as a top 15 pick.

Smith Jr. has a long lean frame that when mixed with his tight ball handling allows him to get to his spots on the floor where he can pull up and shoot over smaller defenders.

At 6-foot-5, Smith Jr. turns the corner above the perimeter incredibly well before stopping on a dime to create a shot in the midrange.

The Arkansas freshman has the quick-twitch athleticism that traditionally thrives with NBA spacing.

Though his assist totals were bizarrely low for a guard that played 26 minutes per game, he clearly has better vision on film than his averages would imply.

Smith Jr. regularly looked to throw alley-oops after breaking down the defense, but didn’t have a legitimate lob threat to finish the play.

Similarly, Arkansas was one of the worst three-point shooting teams in all of college basketball, meaning that a difficult mid-range look from Smith Jr. was a more viable option than kicking the ball out to one of his Razorback teammates.

Nick Smith Jr. Weaknesses

Physically Smith Jr. must get stronger to handle the rigors of the NBA. The freshman is extremely slight which causes him to shy away from contact, and get pushed out of plays on defense.

Smith Jr. is extremely quick but played almost exclusively below the rim in college, which may have been due to a knee injury that caused him to miss a significant chunk of the season.

Regardless, he doesn’t use height to his advantage near the rim.

Despite his strong ability to create shots for himself, they rarely went in at an efficient rate. Smith Jr. made more than two three-pointers only three times in his 17 appearances in college and shot better than 40 percent from the floor only seven times.

Even with Arkansas’s aggressive defensive style, Smith Jr. averaged less than a steal per game, a low number for a college guard.

Backcourt players don’t need to be dominant rebounders in the NBA every night, but it’s helpful in the playoffs, and Smith Jr. may never be even average on the glass for a shooting guard due to his frame.

Nick Smith Jr. Overall

It’s difficult to watch Smith Jr. at Arkansas and not wonder if he just happened to be on one of the most ill-fitting rosters for his skillset in all of college basketball.

Playing alongside fellow lottery-bound point guard Anthony Black, Smith Jr. played off the ball more than he would have on some other roster and was surrounded almost entirely by non-shooters.

Had Smith Jr. played on a team that spaced the floor, and allowed him to drive into the paint without meeting a crowd of defenders, his shooting efficiency and assist numbers might have been significantly better, regardless of injuries.

Due to his poor numbers overall, Smith Jr. likely isn’t in contention for a top-10 pick. However, based on his talent level coming out of high school, and with a game better suited for NBA spacing, don’t be surprised if the Arkansas product outperforms several players drafted in the lottery ahead of him.

Where Will Nick Smith Jr. Get Drafted?

Due to his underwhelming freshman season but still intriguing potential, Smith Jr. will likely be selected as high as pick eight to the Washington Wizards to as low as pick 20 with the Houston Rockets.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz

Dalton Knecht #3 of the Tennessee Volunteers...

Ben Anderson

Utah Jazz Draft Prospect: Tennessee F Dalton Knecht

Tennessee forward Dalton Knecht is projected to be selected in the lottery of the 2024 NBA Draft where the Utah Jazz own a top-ten pick.

10 hours ago

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson celebrates an in-season tournament win highlights...

Chandler Holt

Jazz Notes Player Highlights: Utah’s Other Veterans In 2023-24 Season

Although Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton stole the show for Utah, some other Jazz veterans played key roles in the 2023-24 season.

11 hours ago

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers...

Ben Anderson

Donovan Mitchell Denies Frustration With Cavaliers Teammates

It's been a rough 24 hours for Donovan Mitchell and his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates after being eliminated from the playoffs.

1 day ago

Bronny James Utah Jazz 2024 NBA Draft...

Chandler Holt

Utah Jazz Reportedly Have Interest In Working Out, Drafting Bronny James

According to Yahoo Sports, the Utah Jazz have expressed interest in working out Bronny James and selecting him in the 2024 NBA Draft.

2 days ago

Ron Holland #0 of G League Ignite...

Ben Anderson

Utah Jazz Mailbag: Which Wing Fits Jazz Best In Draft?

Welcome to the Utah Jazz mailbag where every week our NBA insiders answer your questions on social media about your favorite team.

4 days ago

Dalton Knecht #3 of the Tennessee Volunteers...

Ben Anderson

Utah Jazz 2024 NBA Mock Draft Round-Up: Post Lottery

The NBA Draft is just over six weeks away and with the lottery in the rearview mirror, it's officially mock draft season for the Utah Jazz.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Give-A-Thon

The KSL Sports Zone, KSL 5 TV, FM100.3, 103.5 The Arrow, and KSL NewsRadio have teamed up to raise money for the kids being served by Primary Children’s Care!


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Nick Smith Jr. NBA Draft Analysis