At this point a year ago most viewed Smith Jr. as a potential top-five pick and maybe the second best guard in this class behind only Fultz. But thanks to a disastrous 15-17 season in Raleigh (where Smith looked disengaged for large chunks of the year) many felt that by draft night Smith might fall out of the top 10.
But then the draft process began, and many NBA observers have come to realize what college basketball writers have been screaming from the mountain tops for months: Smith is a good kid who was caught in a toxic situation at N.C. State. Dig deeper, and it really is hard to blame much of anything that happened in Raleigh on Smith, who averaged 18 points, six assists and two steals per game last season. He also had arguably his best game in the Wolfpack’s toughest contest, a 32-point, eight-rebound, six-assist effort in a win at Duke.
Now with the alleged “attitude issues” behind him, Smith has thrived during draft workouts. He recently worked out for both the Celtics and Lakers and was impressive — especially in L.A. where, unlike with other top prospects, there were no restrictions on his workout. Smith played five-on-five and dominated.
Depending on where Ball and Fox are drafted, Smith could be in play as high as No. 5 on draft night. He shouldn’t fall past Dallas at No. 9.