Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Pac-12, Part OneOctober 5, 2012
After a disappointing sophomore season, both individually for Joshua Smith
and for UCLA as a team, Smith remains largely the same prospect he was the last time we profiled him. Immensely talented, Smith remains unable to capitalize on his talents and make himself an impact player largely because of his inability to overcome weight and conditioning issues.
Standing at 6'9 with a massive frame, Smith is surprisingly nimble considering he is generously listed at 305 pounds. He remains an effective post scorer, which is where nearly 60% of it comes from according to Synergy Sports Technology. He's more than willing to use his size to establish position can play through contact, and shows good touch on a tough-to-guard right handed hook.
While not quite as prolific of an offensive rebounder as he was during his freshman season, where his 19.5% offensive rebounding rate ranked second in the nation, Smith is still one of the best offensive rebounders among prospects in our database, with his 5.4 offensive rebounds per-40 minutes pace adjusted ranking second in our top 100
. He uses his strength to his advantage here, and has extremely soft hands to go along with consistent effort helping to maximize his impact in this area of the game.
His offensive game remains confined to the paint, not showing much development in his perimeter game. He attempts virtually no jump shots, and his free throw percentage dropped slightly, from 61.3% his freshman season to 59% last year. While Smith is likely going to remain a post scorer at the collegiate level where he has a big advantage over most defenders, showing the ability to hit from the outside would be good for his draft stock, even if it's not in large quantities.
The weight and conditioning issues have limited Smith, both in his effectiveness in certain parts of the game and his ability to stay on the court. Smith saw his minutes decrease, from 21.7 minutes per game his freshman season to 17.2 per game last year, and he remains extremely foul prone – his 7.4 personal fouls per 40 minutes is head and shoulders the highest
among the top 100 prospects in our database, with the second highest being at only 5.1 fouls per 40 minutes.
The offseason started out with some positive news from Smith with regards to his conditioning, as Smith stated in June that he had lost 15 pounds since the end of the season in March. Admitting that he didn't work hard enough the previous summer, the announcement appeared to be a good step towards getting into the kind of shape that would be necessary for Smith to become an impact player.
That optimism was dulled in August when the team went to China for three exhibition games, when coach Ben Howland openly criticized Smith's progress, stating that he was disappointed with where his conditioning was at the time.
Besides the overall minutes he is able to play, the weight problems show themselves the most on the defensive end, where he is slow to change directions and earthbound. Not moving his feet well, he's prone to defending with his hands when defending the pick and roll or when his man tries to take him off the dribble, resulting in his incredibly high foul rate. He is a somewhat capable post defender due to his size, and he does a good job of defending early and denying position.
The combination of his offensive rebounding prowess and undeniable post scoring abilities makes Joshua Smith
a tantalizing prospect, and one that could be ready to break out at any moment. His continued battle with weight issues, that he looks to be losing, brings up many questions regarding his ability to translate that to the next level and his dedication to the game. With the arrival of an extremely highly touted recruiting class including Shabazz Muhammad
, Kyle Anderson
, and Tony Parker, UCLA has the talent to find themselves in a deep postseason run. If Smith can work his way into respectable playing shape, UCLA, and Smith, would benefit greatly.
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Top NBA Draft Prospects in the Pac-12, Part One (#1-5) October 5, 2011
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.
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Adidas Nations Tournament: High School ProspectsAugust 24, 2009
Not much has changed since the last time we evaluated Joshua Smith (#8 Scout, #19 Rivals, #10 ESPN) in the summer of 2008. He’s still the same undersized and extremely overweight center (probably more-so now), displaying flashes of great talent from time to time, but also leaving a lot to be desired in regards to his approach to the game.
Smith put in a pretty lackluster effort in most of the games we got to see him play this summer (in Las Vegas, at the Adidas Nations camp, and at the Elite 24 scrimmage). He struggles to get up and down the floor, and barely puts any effort in whatsoever into things like boxing out his opponent for rebounds, setting screens, or attempting to step out and hedge a screen guarding the pick and roll. There were far too many possessions we saw this summer where he just flat out looked lazy.
Offensively, he’s capable of establishing position inside the paint at will, and has terrific hands, agile feet and outstanding touch to go along with that, but he is often ignored by his teammates (excluding Tony Wroten) at the high school level and doesn’t seem to really mind that from what we saw.
Smith appears to play below the rim, but he actually gets off the ground fairly quickly, looking very natural operating on the block. The fact that he can move so well despite the fact that he’s carrying an extra 30-40 pounds tells you quite a bit about the natural talent he possesses. Outside of his ability to score inside, though, Smith doesn’t seem to have progressed on some other key areas, mainly his face-up game, his free throw shooting, his left hand, and his fundamentals on defense.
For now, Smith remains a big-time talent with some major question marks surrounding him, leading many casual observers to throw out comparisons to Mike Sweetney. Right now most indications are that Smith is leaning towards committing to Ben Howland and UCLA, which would probably be the best possible thing for him considering the things he needs to work on. Lorenzo Romar and Washington reportedly aren’t far behind though.
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Initial Scouting Reports, High School Classes of 2010 and 2011August 1, 2008
One of the top big men in the 2010 class, Josh or Joshua Smith (#3 Scout, #4 Rivals, #18 ESPN) was fairly up and down in Las Vegas in the three times we saw him. Still, it was not hard to see what the recruiting services like about him, considering the variety of skills he brings to the table.
Smith is a long-armed, undersized center who is heavy and extremely out of shape, but is still fairly athletic regardless. He gets off his feet quickly and has outstanding hands, making him a terrific offensive rebounder and a lethal threat to finish around the basket (usually with a powerful two-handed jam). Smith is a load in the low post, carving out deep positioning and showing great footwork and touch converting his moves, while being very effective finishing through contact. Defensively, he can block shots (sometimes without jumping) but is not much of a presence in terms of rotating over to protect the rim, showing average lateral quickness and a distinct lack of hustle at times—depending on his mood seemingly. We saw him fluctuate from being extremely active to very low-energy from game to game, making it tough to get an exact read on how good of a prospect he is. Smith gets his hands on everything around the rim and can be a real force on both ends of the floor when he really puts his mind to it.
Most college coaches we spoke with are incredibly high on Smith at the moment, but we’ll have to wait and see what kind of progress he makes with his body over the next 2-3 years to determine just how good of a prospect he is long-term. There is obviously a great deal to like here already.
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