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Jalen Smith to spend time in G-League

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Suns rookie will go to the Agua Caliente Clippers

Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams said this is the toughest year for an NBA rookie, due to the pandemic which impacted/canceled the annual Summer League, voluntary pickup games, training camp and preseason before kicking off a shortened NBA season (72 games planned vs. 82) where every game counts just a little bit more than usual.

No rookie is averaging more than 14.6 points per game this season, which would be the lowest scoring draft class since at least the 70s (when I stopped researching). LaMelo Ball leads all rookies in all three major raw categories with 14.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game.

Rookie 10th overall pick Jalen Smith definitely has not been ready to positively impact games. Add to the earlier list of gotchas that Smith has also missed games due to COVID and an ankle injury, and you can see why he’s only appeared in three games and did not look good in any of them. Meanwhile his team is trying to squeeze every second of positive production from available minutes. The Suns are 17-9 this year — their best since the 2008-08 season — and have no time to let rookies slowly adjust to the speed and power of the NBA.

Already, second-round rookie Ty-Shon Alexander (22 year old shooting guard) has been assigned to the Canton Charge. In three games so far, Alexander is averaging 17.3 points per game with 58/59/100 shooting splits, plus 3.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds.

Now Jalen Smith will go to the G-League as well. Smith has been assigned to the Agua Caliente Clippers, the NBA G League affiliate of the Los Angeles Clippers, as a flex-assignment.

It’s possible that Smith will bounce back and forth, but not likely due to COVID protocols coming and going, slowing down the transfer process each time.

The G-League is participating in a Bubble in Orlando, basically taking up residence left behind by the NBA from August. The league’s competition is underway at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.

The G-League Bubble (or, Gubble) consists of 18 teams, including 17 NBA G-League teams and the special G-League Ignite team that boasts multiple possible top picks in the 2021 Draft.

Each team will play 15 games from early February to early March, and then the top eight teams will advance to a playoff.

Both the Charge and the Clippers are 1-2 so far this season.