Knicks Draft: Jalen Smith is an intriguing first round prospect

Jalen Smith (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Jalen Smith (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

For the New York Knicks first round pick from the Clippers, they should consider selecting Maryland stand-out Jalen Smith.

While it seems the 2020 NBA Draft will likely get pushed back due to the novel coronavirus, which has already postponed the draft lottery, deciding who to select is still the New York Knicks‘ number one priority right now.

One of the top prospects in this year’s draft class includes a player named Jalen Smith. The two-way standout from Maryland is a prospect new president Leon Rose and returning general manager Scott Perry should consider taking.

The 2020 NBA Draft might not be as star-studded or eye-seeking as other draft classes in prior years, but there are still valuable prospects New York can utilize as quickly as next season.

The Knicks have two first-round picks in this draft. The popular vote among Knicks fans is the first selection should be used on a point guard, which is the position the Knicks should target, even if they somehow trade for Chris Paul.

Whether it’s LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes, or Cole Anthony, New York needs a young point guard that can be given the keys to the franchise.

After the lottery pick selection, the Knicks also have a second first-round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers, which will likely be late in the first round, where things tend to get interesting in terms of finding a steal.

This is where Jalen Smith comes into play. The 6-foot-10 forward has had two very productive seasons during his time at Maryland. And the 2018 McDonalds All-American is a player who can instantly be placed into the Knicks 2020-21 rotation.

Besides Mitchell Robinson, New York lacks rim-protection and overall athleticism up front. Adding Smith would be a boost, as Smith averaged 1.8 blocks per game at Maryland.

Smith is a two-way player who thrives on the fast break. Due to his lengthy frame and a wingspan that measures up to over seven feet, Smith has the potential to guard all five positions if he adds more weight and muscle to his body.

On offense, Smith is a versatile player that can score in a variety of ways. The majority of points scored by Smith were based off of post-ups, put-backs from offensive rebounds, and on transition breaks. Smith has also improved his jump shot.

During his freshmen season, he shot 26 percent from three. His sophomore season is where he showed significant progress by shooting 36 percent from downtown, a ten percent increase from his freshmen year. Smith knocked down 33 three pointers in 31 games.

Smith’s sophomore play was one of the best throughout all of college basketball this season, and he was rewarded with third-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten selections. With averages of 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game last season, Smith can very well be an impact player in the NBA.

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The Knicks need impact players if they want to develop into a competent team in the future. Drafting a player like Jalen Smith would be a good start.