2020 NBA Draft grade: Suns select Jalen Smith with No. 10 overall pick

The NBA Draft already had one big surprise in the top 10 when the Chicago Bulls selected Florida State’s Patrick Williams No. 4 overall. Now, it has a second. The Phoenix Suns have selected Maryland big man Jalen Smith with the No. 10 pick. 

Smith projects as a strong offensive player in the NBA. He’s a strong athlete who averaged 15.5 points per game last season, and in shooting 36.8 percent on 3-pointers, there is optimism that he will be able to develop into a legitimate stretch big man. His defense, however, has been a major problem. He has a long way to go on that end of the floor. 

The choice is surprising on several levels. First of all, the Suns have DeAndre Ayton as their center of the future. He was the No. 1 overall pick two years ago and has largely lived up to the billing. Second, the Suns chose to operate as an above-the-cap team this offseason specifically to retain their rights to two other big men: Aron Baynes and Dario Saric. Where Smith fits into that group, no matter who is still there, remains to be seen. 

The Suns were widely projected to target a 3-and-D prospect like Devin Vassell or Saddiq Bey with their selection. Tyrese Haliburton, often mocked as high as No. 4, was available as well, and could have served as a long-term replacement for Chris Paul at point guard. Instead, the Suns went with Smith and stunned the entire NBA community. 

NBA Draft grade: D-

It’s a surprise on every level. I don’t understand it. I thought I liked Jalen Smith more than most, but I had him in the late-teens. But not in the top 10, and not on a team that already has DeAndre Ayton. He’s more of a stretch five than a stretch four, and that’s simply not a position of need or a great value. But Phoenix does have a history of doing things that don’t make a lot of sense. — Gary Parrish


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