G-League Will Be an Option for Sixers’ Zhaire Smith
CAMDEN, NJ (973espn.com) — The comeback for Philadelphia 76ers second-year guard Zhaire Smith hasn't been all that easy. After missing a majority of the 2018-2019 NBA season due to a foot injury, Smith fell behind in his development.
Smith, who was a rookie at the time, managed to play a short stint with the Sixers' developmental G-League team, the Delaware Blue Coats last year. After catching up to speed with everything concluding a long hiatus, Smith was eventually called up to the NBA.
Although he only managed to play in six games for the Sixers during his debut season, Smith was looking forward to the following year as he would be able to fully develop at the NBA level throughout the offseason.
However, the former first-rounder would deal with some fierce, young competition as the Sixers drafted Washington Huskies' guard, Matisse Thybulle, in the 2019 NBA Draft. With Thybulle's quick development, Smith sort of fell out of favor with Brett Brown and the 76ers, which became evident when he failed to enter preseason games until late in the matchup.
That's not the impression the Sixers want to give the young and developing guard though. While Thybulle may be well-above Smith on the depth chart at this point, the Sixers are still eager to build-up the young prospect. As a way to show Smith he still belongs, the Sixers decided to pick up his third-year option on Wednesday, according to the team.
With training camp and the preseason winding down, though, Smith will more than likely spend a majority, if not, all of his time on the bench for the Sixers to start the season. Being that Smith is still only 20-years-old and needs to develop, the Sixers need to find a way to put him to work without actually experimenting with him in the regular season.
Therefore, Sixers' head coach Brett Brown won't rule out the possibility of sending Zhaire Smith down to get some playing time with their G-League affiliate. "I’m not, sort of, prepared to declare that yet," Brett Brown stated on Thursday, in regards to Smith potentially playing with the Blue Coats this upcoming season.
"If something were to continue where I feel like he wasn’t getting any NBA minutes — If I’m his brother, his father, [or] his agent — like that’s what I would want from my son. I’d want to go down and play significant minutes, get shots, and grow."
Brett Brown raises a logical point. If the Sixers don't really have anywhere to fit him in on the gameplan during the regular season, there's really no use in keeping Smith stashed away on the bench when he clearly needs to polish his game further. So in Brown's mind, he won't commit to allowing Smith to play in the G-League, but he does believe it could be a beneficial option for not only Smith, but others as well.