In Las Vegas, time can be lost, but for Phoenix Suns 2nd-year player Jalen Smith, his time in Phoenix can be heard ticking.
Unless his play Sunday night in his first NBA Summer League action improved his odds of staying Phoenix. Or, the desired trade from another team keeps them interested in feeding from the offer that is still on the table.
All are speculations by me, but with the Suns window for a championship still open, the development of a young player is not in the cards. To watch him learn will be fun, because not knowing how he will respond with real minutes against decent competition will be interesting.
The body language Smith had during his first appearances should be thrown out. To throw him in with minutes he was not ready for and then to not get consistent minutes throughout last year’s season shouldn’t give us a real feel for him yet.
Even though this is Summer League, these are important minutes to watch and see what Smith has to work with going into next season.
The early going
Ayton watch has bled over into this addition of Stix watch, as Jalen Smith was asking for the ball with mismatches under the rim and the was denied by his own teammates. You could find Smith Sunday night against he Los Angeles Lakers Summer League squad under the rim or outside the three-point arc, ready to shoot.
Smith’s first shot attempt was from three to start the game. He was covered pretty well and just looked to throw it up to see how it feels. It was a miss and on the next time with possession, he was able to sneak by the defender with a decent look at the rim, but missed again.
Smith was aggressive early in the first to get the rebound and push the ball. His ability to run the lanes correctly showed a little versatility. He was decisive on the block and able to grab a few offensive rebounds leading to points.
Positioning under the rim on misses was the biggest focus for Smith. He was able to grab three offensive rebounds in the first quarter, showing his selfishness to keep his teams offense going.
With almost the rest of the Suns team on the side-line, cheering him on, Smith could feel the good energy and looked to get his shot all first quarter.
Smith is long. Like, Mikal Bridges long. The mistimed jump on a defensive rebound was inconsequential due to his length.
Always ready to shoot, Smith was able to drain his first three of the game with a well placed pass right into his quick shooting motion.
Towards the end of the second quarter, there was a lot of standing in the corner by Smith, but when the shot clock ticked down, he was able to make his way to the rim to grab another offensive rebound. Led to a bad pass, but then was able to get back on defense to block a easy look at the rim by the opponent.
Smith is looking like a chill guy on the court, but knows how to make up ground quickly to make a play on the ball. Whether it is offense or defense.
Defensively at time, Smith was a little slow to respond, but all-in-all he had good positioning making shots difficult.
Start of the 2nd half
A few whiffs here and there on the blocked shot attempts can be looked at in a positive way. He was not looking to give up on plays on defense, even when it seemed out of reach. Slower to the punch, but the effort was there.
Other than the announcers mistaking Jaleen Smith for Ty-Shon Alexander, the most annoying thing to watch was the three point attempts Jalen Smith was throwing up. It was the look of a player in the mood not to do much more on offense, but to just settle.
A couple air balls from beyond the arc would hopefully send a message to get to the rim.
Like we tell Mikal. Get to the rim!
Mentioned earlier about how Smith was able to run the break, well... he almost broke the rim on a break away dunk.
Jalen Smith throws down the hammer on the break and Mikal Bridges approves pic.twitter.com/rweIBJMNID— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) August 9, 2021
Next possession he was able to to pull off the “Jae Crowder”, the 4-point play. His skills were put on full display to the max in the matter of seconds!
The closing minutes
Trying to do too much maybe with wrap around pass, ending up as his 4th turnover of the game, Smith would look to bounce back.
The Suns were leading with three minutes left in the game, and players on both sides are playing for their basketball lives, meaning not a whole lot of action went towards Smiths way at the end of the game.
The shot for the win fell short for Smith and the Suns to the Lakers.
Smith was able to ease is way into the game, looking comfortable on offense from the 2nd quarter on. There wasn’t a question about his hustle, but there might be more questions about his speed on defense and lateral movement.
What was shown tonight was promising and something the Suns front office will sleep on when toying with the bench. Still, more games to be played in Summer League.
Smith finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and an assist.
The Summer Suns led nearly the entire second half but could not put away the Lakers and lost 73-72.
The Summer Suns play again on Monday at 7:00PM against the Jazz contingent on NBATV.