Standing 6'10 and listed generously at 305 pounds, Bruins center Joshua Smith
provides an intriguing skill set, but still has a considerable amount of work -- both in terms of shaping his body and his basketball skill -- until he can untap his full potential.
Smith is, first and foremost, a post scorer. He is a tough cover for any collegiate big man in the paint, using his massive frame, incredible strength, and touch to score over defenders at this level. Smith does a great job of establishing deep position in the post almost at will, has terrific hands to catch entry passes and improving footwork.
Smith is, at this point, mostly a below the rim player when finishing in traffic, although this could change if he's able to shed the considerable extra weight he's still carrying. He shows an effective right handed hook, although hasn't developed a similar move with his left hand, limiting him somewhat when going over his right shoulder.
He shows potential as a passer out of the post, although at this point it's somewhat unrealized. Smith does a good job of not holding onto the ball too long and passing before being trapped by the double team, but his recognition and ability to make the right pass isn't fully developed, and he can become turnover prone. With more experience, better spacing and a more consistent perimeter shooting team around him this could be an area that sees improvement down the line.
Outside of post scoring, the majority of the rest of Smith's offense comes from offensive rebounding, where he is among the best in the nation. Smith pulled in 6.3 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted last season, which ranked second amongst all prospects
behind only Kenneth Faried
. His combination of bulk, length, effort in establishing position and soft hands makes him a constant threat to crash the offensive glass.
The rest of his offensive game is a clear weakness at this stage. Smith provides virtually nothing beyond 10 feet, and in fact, according to Synergy Sports Technology had only attempted 6 jump shots all year. No pick and roll or pick and pop sets are run for him, and he doesn't have a face-up game at all. At this stage in his collegiate career he's able to be a very effective offensive player off of post-ups and offensive rebounds alone, but in order to take the next step as a prospect will need to develop this part of his game further.
That effort he gives on the offensive glass, unfortunately, doesn't apply to the defensive side of the ball, as his 5.2 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted placed him second to last amongst centers in our top-100 rankings. His technique and effort boxing out was inconsistent, and he doesn't have the mobility to make up for it.
While far more nimble on his feet than one might suspect just by looking at him, his overall athleticism is still a question mark, and will be an issue as he's asked to defend away from the basket more. He gives considerable space to the ball handler on pick and rolls, although some of this may have been an adjustment to try to keep him out of foul trouble, he ranked as the most foul prone player
amongst our top-100 prospects last year. Foul trouble will likely continue to be a problem for Smith at his current size.
Smith doesn't look to be a weakside shot blocker, at least not in his current build, but he is a solid positional defender, doing a solid job at denying post position early, being able to hold his ground defensively and block shots with his length.
Smith clearly has a considerable amount of natural basketball talent and athletic ability, but he will need to lose a considerable amount of weight to fully utilize it, particularly at the next level. If he is able to do that and judging by recent reports
, that's a big if -- he presents an intriguing skill set, and one that's hard to find.