The first player to workout for the Miami Heat (at least with public knowledge) and one of the players that appears tied to Miami the most in mock drafts is Nick Smith Jr., a scoring guard from Arkansas. The 19-year-old Smith Jr. was a top-10 player coming into the season, but his injury affected his play a lot and ultimately, his draft stock. Still, he’s an intriguing prospect as a scoring guard,
Has solid size at 6’5 and a 6’8 wingspan that he uses well to score. Possesses high level speed and balance to quickly get into his spots without losing his footing, able to stop on a dime. Large shoulders, but still a bit thin, which makes him get a bit pushed around on defense and not able to win that good of a position off the pick and roll if the defender goes with him.
Can score on three levels and do that well. Looks to push the pace, initiate offense quickly and look for his shot in transition. Tries to get by defenders with quick crossovers and hesitations. Can accelerate and decelerate suddenly and that is hard for defenders to stop. Won’t be going all the way to the rim unless there’s an open path. He’ll finish with runners when he gets into the paint and can also go for a quick 2-foot jump stop floater.
Arkansas’ offensive spacing didn’t really allow him to get into his mid-range shot as much as he wanted, but there’s a lot of promise there. Can shoot from the outside, especially off the ball – went for 36% this season on spot ups. Catches the ball ready to fire and has a quick motion. His ability to play off the ball is really under-appreciated and should catch the Heat’s eye. Can also attack really well off screens, with multiple things he can go to: movement 3, pull up mid-range or go to the paint.
He’s really not someone that will find his teammates. Not to say he can’t pass, but his main focus is to score and will pass mostly out of necessity.
A lot of work has to go into his defense. Even with some of the basics of individual and team defense. Smith has the ability to go through screens due to his lean frame and his length proves to be difficult for some offensive players. His off ball defending is not too bad, he has a high motor, keeps on moving and trying to find steals in passing lanes or indecisive attacker. But he just isn’t a controlled, patient defender. Always biting on fakes, getting beaten off the dribble with just two/three moves and getting pushed around by anyone with the minimum amount of strength. Gets caught many times out of position. Can’t really switch because of his build and can’t defend pick and rolls aside from some instances. Will have to really learn how to defend on the ball before he can become a rotation piece the NBA teams like.
Stats (per 36): 18.4 PTS | 39.7% 2FG (11.3 ATT) | 33.8% 3FG (6.1 ATT) | 74.0% FT (4.3 ATT) | 2.4 REB | 2.5 AST | 1.3 STL | 2.3 TOV | 0.2 BLK | 27.2% USG
Nick Smith Jr.’s offensive game will get the attention of many teams, even if he had a rough year in Arkansas. The offensive promise as a 3-level scorer is too good to just pretend you don’t see him. The defensive side is a real question and he’ll need it to be playable in the league. But having someone who can score on and off the ball, in so many different ways as he can makes him a talent to take into account for the Heat. He is projected to be picked after the lottery, right around where the Heat are positioned.