The Suns picked Zhaire Smith with the 16th pick then traded his rights to the Sixers for Mikal Bridges. 

By Ben Ladner
June 21, 2018

The Phoenix Suns selected Texas Tech guard Zhaire Smith with the No. 16 pick then traded his rights to the Sixers for Mikal Bridges (the No. 10 pick) and a 2021 first-rounder.

The Suns selected DeAndre Ayton with the first overall pick of the draft. 

Smith, a product of Garland, Texas, was an unheralded propsect coming out of high school but played his way up draft boards as a freshman. In his lone season with the Red Raiders, he averaged 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 blocks while shooting over 55% from the field. In the only postseason of his college career, Smith helped lead Texas Tech to an Elite Eight appearance, averaging 12 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in four NCAA tournament games. 

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At 6'5", 200 pounds, Smith is one of the most athletic players in this year's draft class, recording a 41.5-inch max vertical leap and 3.05-second three-quarter sprint, both among the best marks at the NBA combine. 

Jeremy Woo's grade: B

This pick is going to the Sixers with Miami’s 2021 first-rounder for Mikal Bridges, so Smith is headed to Philly. We’ll grade this decision for the Sixers, which is a little bit baffling given how strong a fit Bridges was, but does build in more long-term upside for Philadelphia and adds a future first. For the Sixers, who can afford to bring Smith along slowly, it’s an admirably bold move, and while Smith folds in a lot of risk, he will benefit from being able to play off of the established stars already there. It’s a good pickup for the Suns, who sorely needed a defensive-minded wing player to add to their core, and have assembled an appealing collection of young talent. 

SI.com's Jeremy Woo broke down Smith's strengths and weaknesses. 

Strengths

• Has the burst to beat defenders off the dribble, get to the rim and finish in traffic.

• Malleable, disruptive defender capable of switching assignments. Nimble enough to contain guards and can hold his own against hefty wings.

• Shows potential to develop into a plus perimeter shooter. Shot at high percentage (45%) from deep on a low number of attempts at Texas Tech.

• Big-time athlete whose explosiveness shows up on both ends of the floor. Doesn’t just rely on athletic tools; plays with a lot of effort.

• Hasn’t turned 19 yet. Plenty of time to build out his offensive game.

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Weaknesses

• Needs to iron out the form on his jump shot. Good 3P% isn’t necessarily indicative of his long-range shooting ability. Attempted only 40 threes at Texas Tech.

• Rudimentary shot-creator off the dribble. Hardly ever created his own shot last season. Won’t be able to get by on explosiveness alone against more athletic defenders in the NBA.

• Defensive utility will be more limited at the next level than it was at Texas Tech because of his size. Could have a harder time switching assignments. Measured just 6’2.75” without shoes at the combine.

• Will be a limited offensive player who cramps spacing if he can’t develop into a reliable three-point shooter.   

 

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