Brett Brown on Zhaire Smith: ‘It’s a Huge Summer for Him’
The Philadelphia Sixers made a draft night trade, sending the 10th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Mikal Bridges to Phoenix in exchange for the 14th pick Zhaire Smith.
Bridges, in 82 games, 52 starts, averaged 8.3 points per game, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 29.5 minutes per game. Meanwhile, Smith appeared in just six games in his rookie season. After breaking his foot in training camp, he had an allergic reaction relating to ingesting sesame. He averaged 6.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 18.5 minutes played in six games.
Smith was not a guy that many people knew much about on draft night, but should get to know moving forward, he is just one of four Sixers signed to a contract for next season and Sixers head coach Brett Brown thinks he will have a much bigger role next season.
"I think it's a huge summer for him, and he understands that," Brett Brown admitted.
"This is the time people advance. This is the time where people have a chance to improve. I think he is going to have a great summer."
"His perseverance and love for basketball is apparent," Brown continued. "He lives in the gym. He's not gun shy, he's not afraid of the stage. If he's open, he's gonna shoot it. And third, there is an athleticism that allows him to play defense."
After sitting out the virtually the entire 2018-19 season, Smith looks poised to make an impact next season and says he would like to play in the Sixers summer league.
“I want to," Smith said during his exit interview. "I just want to see where I’m at, because I put on a lot of weight muscle wise and see how I move with that and to see if I still got it.”
If Smith does step on the court in Las Vegas, it will finally give the Sixers a chance to see the player they took a chance on. Smith is just 19 years old — his birthday is on June 4th — so he'll be just 20 years old when Summer League starts on July 5th. Making him still one of the youngest players in the NBA and his talent is undeniable.
He has been compared to Kawhi Leonard, due to his defensive prowess, and raw offensive game.
"I feel like I'll probably be better than him," Smith joked. "Or I'm gonna try."