Through three games at the Las Vegas Summer League, it is abundantly clear that Philadelphia 76ers second-year wing player Zhaire Smith, rookie wing Matisse Thybulle, and two-way player Norvel Pelle have been the standout stars.
In regards to Smith, this is his second year playing in the NBA’s summer session, after missing a majority of his rookie season due to a Jones fracture and a food allergy.
Despite the health setbacks, Smith eventually made his professional debut after the All-Star break, spending time with the Sixers and the Delaware Blue Coats (Philly’s NBA G-League affiliate).
In 11 games played with the Blue Coats, he averaged 7.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 22.7 minutes per game. Even though Smith did not make a tremendous impact in the G-League, it was just great to see him back on the court.
After his 11-game stint was complete, Smith found himself back in the NBA with the Sixers. The former first-round pick played in six games with Philly and showed flashes of what we saw from him in the summer league last year.
Fast forward to this summer and the former Texas Tech Red Raider is building off those 17 regular-season games and exuding confidence on the basketball court.
In three games at this year’s Summer League, Smith is averaging 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 28.0 minutes per game. He also is shooting 47.2-percent from the field and 33.3-percent from three-point range on three attempts per game.
Simply put, the 6-foot-5 wing player has put on an absolute show, which should have Sixers fans excited for this upcoming season.
Smith is not only throwing down some impressive slam dunks but also taking and making mid-range jump shots. The latter part of this statement is a great development, especially since there was some uncertainty about his offensive game coming out Texas Tech.
On Monday afternoon against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Smith put those offensive skills on full display in a hard-fought three-point overtime loss.
In the second quarter, Smith pushed off on his defender while driving to the lane, which allowed him to create some space and knock down a comfortable midrange jumper from the free-throw line.
Later in the game, Smith knocked down a three-pointer off the dribble in the fourth quarter. If he can shoot the three-ball at a respectable rate next season, it should give the Sixers’ offense a boost.
Last season, the Sixers shot 35.6-percent from three-point range, which was good for tenth in the NBA.
Smith finished the game with a summer league career-high 18 points on 8-of-19 field-goal attempts, five rebounds, and three assists in 34 minutes played.
With all that being said, it should be interesting to see how Smith wraps up his second stint in the Summer League. Thus far, it has been a joy to see him making strides on offense and playing confidently.
For a team such as the Sixers, who are expected to be competing for an NBA title next season, they are going to definitely need Smith’s contributions on both ends of the floor.