The Toronto Raptors will likely not be stagnant leading up to the NBA trade deadline, as Masai Ujiri should look to add either some backcourt scoring off of the bench or a taller center that can provide depth inside. He could check one of those boxes by calling up the Phoenix Suns and inquiring about Jalen Smith.
If the Raptors want to continue their quest to acquire every 2020 first-round draft pick, they could pick up another one in Smith. While the Maryland star was a top recruit and had a solid career for Mark Turgeon and the Terrapins, Phoenix selecting Smith as high as they did was a bit of a surprise given the fact he was projected to be taken just outside of the lottery.
Smith has found playing time hard to come by, as he has been stuck behind names like Deandre Ayton, JaVale McGee, and Dario Saric in the rotation over the last two seasons. Smith may just need a fresh start, and Shams Charania is reporting that this could end up becoming reality.
The latest buzz suggests that Phoenix is receiving some serious trade interest in Smith even though they declined to pick up his third-year option. If Toronto is not already one of those teams, they should consider getting James Jones on the line and working out a deal.
The Toronto Raptors should pursue Jalen Smith.
At 6-10, Smith would be the tallest player on the Raptors. While his 215-pound frame might not make him a dominant low-post player, he should be able to provide enough rebounding and shot-blocking to handle full-time center work. This would allow Chris Boucher to slide back over to power forward.
Smith is only playing eight minutes per game, averaging 3.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. While it’s hard to draw tons of conclusions from such a small sample size, the fact that he’s been able to pick up some boards when he’s on the floor and show off a slightly expanded offensive game is encouraging.
While he hasn’t been the best shooter in the pros, he was a 37% 3-point shooter in college, so there is a solid foundation on which Toronto can continue to build. With 2.4 blocks per game during his second year at Maryland, Smith’s defensive potential is very real.
Smith was drafted higher than Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn, showing that he has some tantalizing potential despite the fact he has been buried on the depth chart. Even if Smith isn’t an amazing short-term upgrade, he’s worth taking a chance on for a Raptors desperate for consistency inside.