3 best fits for Nick Smith Jr. in 2023 NBA Draft

A top-three recruit in the Class of 2022, Nick Smith Jr. is about to find himself as a first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

While the former Arkansas guard struggled with shooting in his only season with the Razorbacks, there’s a reason why Smith was such a high recruit out of North Little Rock High School.

Smith battled some knee issues as a freshman at Arkansas. It impacted his overall numbers and performance. With that said, the athleticism and raw talent is there for Smith to be an impact player at the next level. Below, we provide a breakdown of Smith as an NBA Draft prospect while looking at three ideal landing spots once the annual event comes calling June 22.

Related: Sportsnaut’s full 2023 NBA mock draft

Nick Smith measurables

  • Height: 6-foot-5
  • Wingspan: 6-foot-9
  • Weight 155 pounds

Nick Smith scouting report

  • Positives: Great length and athleticism for a combo guard at the next level. Quick off the dribble with an ability to penetrate and finish in the lane. Can create his own shot off the dribble as a mid-range threat. Ability to play both on the ball and off the ball. Very good at cutting without the ball and is an above average distributor with the ball in his hands.
  • Negatives: Will need to add more bulk to make a consistent impact at the NBA level. Struggled with shooting at Arkansas (under 40% from inside the three-point line). Isn’t necessarily a natural playmaker and can be pushed around on the defensive end of the court. Needs to be more consistent in all aspects of his games. Struggles with rebounding despite a 6-foot-9 wingspan.

Best fits for Nick Smith Jr. in 2023 NBA Draft

Teams value combo guards more than at any previous point in NBA history. Smith’s flexibility, upside and raw ability will make him a primary target of teams selecting somewhere in the second half of the lottery. Let’s look at his best fits.

  • Nick Smith stats (2022-23): 12.5 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 38% shooting, 34% 3-point

Orlando Magic (6th and 11th picks)

nick smith landing spots, 2023 nba draft

Orlando seems to be point guard heavy in the backcourt with Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs. And while Suggs is also a combo guard, the expectation if that the Magic will move off one of these three during the summer.

In reality, Orlando needs to round out its roster and make it more balanced in the backcourt if the team is going to become relevant in the NBA again. The idea of Smith manning the two-guard spot with Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner doing their thing in the frontcourt makes sense. It creates an issue of where to play whoever remains in the backcourt. But with two lottery selections, taking a chance on a high-upside prospect such as Nick Smith makes sense.

Toronto Raptors (13th pick)

There are going to be several needs for Toronto after a down .500 season. Obviously, a lot of that will be dependent on whether front office head Masai Ujiri blows up the roster by trading forwards Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby.

One obvious need here is getting more length in the backcourt. Fred VanVleet is smallish. He’s also set to become a free agent in July. Adding Smith to the mix with the 13th selection would just make too much sense given his skillset, frame and the Raptors’ overall needs.

Los Angeles Lakers (17th pick)

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament West Regional Practice

First off, we highly doubt that Los Angeles will actually keep this pick. It would not be a surprise if the team opted to move off it with other assets to find proven talent given that LeBron James is in the back end of his career.

With that said, we’ve also seen Los Angeles’ brass make a push for the future in declining to give up multiple future first-round picks in trades.

One issue we saw during the Lakers’ otherwise solid playoff performance was an issue at the two-guard spot behind Austin Reaves, who is slated to become a free agent this summer and might be priced out of the Lakers’ range. Nick Smith Jr. seems to be an obvious fit here.

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