Throughout the dozens of NBA mock drafts that had been published since the Covid-19 pandemic shut down college basketball, Jalen Smith was rarely, if at all, projected to be a top-ten pick.
Of course, Smith was drafted No. 10 overall by the Phoenix Suns during the NBA Draft, where he’ll join a loaded team featuring Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul.
Many NBA pundits and non-Terp fans were incredibly surprised with Smith being drafted tenth overall. Here’s a brief roundup of some of the draft grades that Phoenix received for their first-round selection of the former Terp.
CBS Sports: D-
CBS Sports was bewildered by the selection of Smith, saying, “It’s a surprise on every level. I don’t understand it.” The writers, Gary Parrish and Kyle Boone, believe that Smith isn’t a fit on a team that already features Deandre Ayton in their frontcourt.
SI also gave the Suns a poor grade for drafting Smith and cited his inability to fit with Ayton as the main reason for the disappointment with their draft. “Perhaps he can become a quality backup five, but it’s hard to imagine him thriving next to Ayton,” wrote Michael Shapiro.
Yahoo Sports: D
Yahoo Sports also was befuddled by the selection of Smith with the tenth pick. Similarly to CBS Sports and SI, Yahoo Sports cited Smith’s inability to fit with Ayton as the reason as to why the pick didn’t make sense for Phoenix. The writer, Ben Rohrbach, mentioned “his defensive limitations make him a reach at No. 10 and a more awkward fit alongside DeAndre Ayton.”
The Ringer: C
The Ringer was actually one of the nicer publications when it came to grading Phoenix’s selection of Smith. “Shot-blocking centers with legitimate 3-point range aren’t quite as unusual as they used to be, but players like Smith are still fairly uncommon,” said Jonathan Tjarks. However, Tjarks also doesn’t believe that Smith will fit well on the court with Ayton.
Bleacher Report: C-
Bleacher Report compared Smith to a young Myles Turner and praised the fact that he can be a “jumbo” 3&D player for Phoenix. However, B/R doesn’t believe that Smith will fit well with Ayton (I’m sensing a theme here) and thinks that the Suns will regret passing on Devin Vassell and Tyrese Haliburton.