Editor’s note: As the Utah Jazz continue their search for the next Danny Green, General Manager Dennis Lindsey and company plan to give looks to a wide variety of D-League players on 10-day contracts. From Dakota Schmidt, here are 4 contestants for such a contract at the forward position currently in the D-League that the Jazz could call up. Dakota’s look at D-League guards was posted earlier this week.
Throughout Smith’s separate college stints with UConn and UNLV, the 6’8” forward was mainly known as a defensive stopper with a limited offensive game. During his final college season, Smith had a miniscule 48% two-point percentage while only scoring 11.5 points per-40 minutes. Alongside his offensive struggles, Smith also fell into the unfortunate “tweener” label, which meant that he was looked at as too small to play PF, while not being the ideal small forward because of his offensive struggles.
Since making the transition to the NBADL and LA D-Fenders, Smith has suddenly become more comfortable as a scoring threat. After spending an entire college career struggling to maintain any amount of offensive consistency, Smith has flourished with LA, as he currently possesses a rather dependable 61% True Shooting Percentage.
The main weapon of Smith’s improved offensive arsenal would be his ability to work his way to the rim. While he isn’t the quickest player in the game, Smith has a unique ability to still be able to work around his opponent and glide his way to the paint. During that journey, Smith can make split-second moves to slide away from the opposition. Those skills have definitely made a positive impact as Smith shoots an impressive 72% from inside the restricted area.
While his penetration skills have allowed Smith to be such an effective inside scorer, another facet where he excels is as an offensive rebounder. In spite of his 6’8 frame, Smith averages more than four offensive boards per game, which puts him in the top-10 in the entire D-League.
Away from the paint, Smith is more of a question mark. Although he does possess a swift shooting stroke, Smith has yet to be a consistent force from that end of the court. From mid-range (8-24 feet away from the rim), Smith shoots upwards of 37%. While that isn’t exactly an impressive number, it does showcase that he’s definitely made strides since his time in college.
While Roscoe Smith’s athleticism helps him do the necessary “dirty work”, Delaware 87ers’ forward Ronald Roberts’ athleticism is a lot more evident and exciting. From just doing a quick YouTube search, you can clearly see the natural athleticism and leaping ability, that helped allow Roberts become one of the finest forwards in the entire D-League.
Aside from hitting rim-rocking slams, Roberts can utilize his athleticism in more traditional ways, like as an offensive rebounder. Similar to Smith, Roberts is able to be a fantastic offensive rebounder despite being looked at as an undersized forward. At 6’8, Roberts has captured 4.2 offensive boards per game.
Although this element of his game is still a little raw, Roberts has shown off a knack as a post-up scorer.
While it’s only been showcased in small doses (shooting 58% on 13 attempts), Roberts does look comfortable when he’s posting up on the opposition. Whether it would be with a little baby hook or utilizing a spin move to break away from his defender, it should be expected for this to become a more crucial element to his game whenever Roberts makes his way to the NBA.
Since his D-League debut during the 2012-13 season, Willie Reed has been looked at as one of the premier defensive forces in the entire league. While he has yet to stake that same claim on the NBA level, his skills as a defensive stopper shouldn’t be able to go unnoticed.
Although Reed’s base defensive numbers aren’t exactly astronomical (2.3 blocks and .8 steals per game), the impact that he’s made to his team (Grand Rapids Drive) shouldn’t be understated. Alongside his lanky 6’10 frame, Reed has legit athleticism and impressive footwork, which he utilizes to stay in front of any penetrating opponents. In large part because of Reed’s abilities, Grand Rapids currently sits as the fifth best defensive team in the NBADL.
On the offensive end, Reed is able to be effective by simply excelling in the art of “controlled aggression”. Reed knows how to use his athleticism to either capture offensive rebounds (4.7 offensive boards per game) or glide his way to the rim as a penetrator. While it isn’t a focal part of his offensive game, Reed has become more comfortable as a post-up player, which is apparent from the following clip.
While the other nine D-League prospects that have been profiled can be considered young, up-and-coming players, there’s a slew of veterans that are working towards one last opportunity in the NBA. One of those veteran players would be Earl Barron, who has thrived in the D-League as a multi-faceted NBA weapon.
Although Barron’s veteran experience would make it expected for him to be more well-rounded than your standard D-League prospect, not even the most optimistic players could predict that he’d be like this. During his current stint with the Bakersfield Jam, Barron has spread himself out as a mid-range (42%) and even as a perimeter scoring threat (33%).
Despite that, Barron can still utilize his large, 7’1” frame to be an imposing figure on the offensive glass, where he averages four offensive boards per game. While inside the paint, Barron exhibits a tremendous amount of confidence with the way he works inside the paint as a stable post-up player.