Suns Draft Maryland Forward Jalen Smith

Arizona Sports News online

(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

The Phoenix Suns selected Maryland power forward Jalen Smith with the No. 10 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. 

The 6-foot-10, 220-pound forward averaged 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game last year with Maryland. He also shot 36.8% from three-point range and was third in the nation in double-doubles last year as well. 

Evaluators say Smith can play center and forward, which could help provide depth given Aron Baynes’ and Frank Kaminsky’s futures with the team are unclear.

Smith hopes to make his biggest impact on the defensive side of the ball on a roster that won’t have trouble scoring points. 

“What I bring to the Phoenix Suns is defensive versatility. Every team has tremendous scorers. We have Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton. I feel as though that’s where I can make my impact the most on the defensive end to help them create for the offense.” 

Smith hopes to deliver consistent assists to Booker and Paul and be a complement to Deandre Ayton. As a freshman at Maryland, Smith was paired with fellow big Bruno Fernando, who was drafted 34th overall in 2019. Smith said learning from a more experienced big helped him progress quickly, and he hopes to replicate that with the Suns.

“Being beside Deandre Ayton is going to be a major thing because I always had a dominant big next to me when I was playing basketball and I was able to learn from them,” Smith said. “I feel as though I can pick at Deandre Ayton throughout my career.” 

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor said Smith is a “coordinated big man who can shoot and handle the ball, though he’ll need to make strides on defense to become a full-time starter”.

This is the only projected pick for the night for the Suns. Memphis owns Phoenix’ second round pick from a deal that brought defensive specialist Jevon Carter to The Valley. 

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