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  • Talking NBA draft with La Salle's Steven Smith

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  • Steven Smith NBA Draft Scouting Report

    Apr 18, 2006, 05:13 pm
    Strengths
    Measuring in at the Chicago pre-draft camp last June at 6-8 ¾ in shoes with a 7 foot wingspan and 8-10 standing reach, Smith has ample size to play either forward position in the NBA. He is not an incredibly explosive athlete, but is a highly coordinated; the type of player who is never off balance, has excellent reflexes, and moves very smoothly on the court. The type of minutes he plays (last season an astounding 39.6 of a possible 40, this year 36 per game) tells you all you need to do about his level of conditioning.

    Offensively, Smith is the definition of a mismatch at the college level, scoring nearly 2200 total points in his four year college career in 117 games, or close to 19 points a game on average each season. He gets most of his points simply by outsmarting and outworking his opponents, doing a great job of playing to his strengths and taking advantage of the oppositions’ weaknesses.

    Smith is an opportunistic scorer, the type of player that’s always in the right place at the right time and can score in many different ways from all over the court. His bread and butter at the college level is his mid-range game, usually being able to take advantage of his height advantage to release the ball from a high release point and with pretty fluid mechanics; with excellent results. Smith sets excellent screens and is very good moving off the ball, knowing how to utilize his teammates’ screens effectively as well to cause even further mismatches. Smith will be a very effective pick and pop threat in the NBA if his coach decides to utilize that part of his game.

    Smith is his team’s go-to guy, and acts like it too, constantly asking for the ball, looking to get himself in position to score, and shouldering much of his team’s scoring load in a very unselfish manner. Smith likes to go to work right outside the paint on the baseline with his back to the basket, slithering around defenders with his quickness if they get too close or elevating over the top of them for a turnaround jump-shot if he has even an inch of daylight. If his shot isn’t there or the double team comes (they always do), Smith displays an excellent basketball IQ passing the ball out of the post or from the perimeter to find the open man. He is extremely unselfish and will only force the issue when his team absolutely needs him to, which happens all too often unfortunately. He averages 2.5 assists per game, but would finish every game with twice as many if his teammates did a better job of finishing around the rim or knocking down open shots.

    If given space--which is extremely rare considering his status as far as opposing defenses are concerned--Smith will knock down shots out to the college 3-point line and sometimes even beyond with his feet set.

    Even though his turnovers on paper look to be very high (3.6 per game), this has more to do with his team’s grind it out style of play and the fact that he’s usually the one asked to go out of his element and create something out of nothing at the end of possessions with the shot clock running down. In the NBA he’ll likely be known as the type of player who doesn’t make many mistakes and will never hurt his team on the offensive end.

    Defensively, Smith does an adequate job for the most part at the college level, but is in no position to wear himself out physically or get into foul trouble considering how important he is to his team’s efforts. His team plays plenty of zone to make sure this isn’t an issue, which makes him a little more difficult to evaluate. If needed, Smith will hit the deck for loose balls, setting an example for his teammates despite the fact that he is the team’s unquestioned star.

    Another strong suit of his is his rebounding ability. Smith’s size, excellent wingspan and standing reach, terrific hands, high basketball IQ and the toughness he shows on the floor make him a force in this area. He doesn’t always play near the basket, but still managed to come up with a very solid 8 rebounds per game this season.

    In terms of intangibles, there isn’t a whole lot you can ask for here. Smith is the kind of guy who seems to have “figured it out,” possessing an excellent attitude both on and off the court to go along with a terrific work ethic. As mentioned, his feel for the game is outstanding, as are his leadership skills, being the type of player who leads both with his voice as well as by example. In his senior year he took a young team without much talent on his back and carried them to a surprising 10-6 record in the Atlantic 10 (good for 3rd in the conference) and an 18-10 record overall.

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