Free agent to upgrade Dallas Mavericks roster: 5. Zhaire Smith
Zhaire Smith is the least likely to provide the Mavericks any immediate help, but there’s plenty of reasons the Mavericks should take a long look at the former Red Raider. It’s not very often that a team gets to add a 21-year old, former first-round pick for pennies on the dollar. With such a young core, the Mavericks should take a chance on potentially adding another cornerstone to their foundation.
There’s no doubt that Smith struggled to find his place in the league while playing for the Philadelphia 76ers. The main reason the once-18th-overall pick is no longer in the NBA is his inability to stay on the court. Before his rookie year even began, Smith broke his foot and has failed to stay off the injury report ever since. Throughout two seasons, he’s played a total of 13 NBA games and accumulated more injuries than most veterans.
Smith has shown enough to earn another shot in the pros. In his extremely limited rookie year, he shot over 37 percent from 3-point range on nearly three attempts a game. His guard skills and freak athleticism gives his offense room to grow. In 28 G-League games for the Delaware Blue Coats last season, Smith averaged 13.5 points and 2.0 assists on 53 percent shooting including over 37 percent from behind the arc.
While his athleticism and offensive game certainly helped his draft stock, his defense also figured to translate at the next level. Although he’s not big for a guard at 6’3, Smith’s massive 6’9 wingspan gives him the versatility to take on bigger assignments. His agility and lateral speed, if he improves his technical ability, should allow him to stay in front of nearly every guard in the league.
Watch how quickly Smith cuts off this pass from the weakside corner. That ability to cover ground should give him plenty more NBA steals if he’s given the opportunity.https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2020/02/03/0021900747/622/e597380f-1821-9aa3-fa8e-3ad8bf13669a_1280x720.mp4
Plenty of former first-rounders have been given up on before finding the right place for them. Cameron Payne and Markelle Fultz are two great, recent examples of guards who struggled before turning it around in new situations. Dallas should consider seeing if they are the right situation for Zhaire Smith.
Next: No. 4