Arkansas freshman Nick Smith Jr. had more NBA buzz than any other player in college basketball entering the season. In fact, for many people, Smith was the first player off the board after the Big 2 of Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson in their own NBA mock drafts. Here we will look at the scouting report on 2023 NBA Draft rookie hopeful Nick Smith Jr. of the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Throughout the 2022-23 season, a persistent knee injury hindered the explosive scorer. This caused him to struggle with consistency. As a result of right knee soreness, the highly-touted high school senior participated in only 12 regular season games.

Despite the injury setback, Smith Jr. regained national attention due to Arkansas's impressive performance heading to the Sweet 16. Obviously, this included a win against the defending national champions, Kansas. Although he had a tough time in the tournament's first two games, going scoreless and shooting poorly, Smith Jr.'s undeniable talent remained evident. Now, some may question why he and another freshman, Anthony Black, are considered possible lottery picks. However, it's also important to note that college basketball doesn't always translate to pro potential. Junior guards Ricky Council IV and Davonte Davis may lead the charge now for Arkansas. However, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll have the most promising professional careers.

Now, let's look at the scouting report on 2023 NBA Draft rookie hopeful Nick Smith Jr. of the Arkansas Razorbacks.


Height: 6'5
Weight: 185 pounds
DOB: April 18, 2004
Position: Combo Guard


Smith is a high-potential player who possesses excellent scoring abilities. His offensive game is characterized by his explosive speed and smooth jump shot. Nevertheless, Smith's lack of consistent playing time during the season has limited his impact on the court.

When he's healthy, Smith is an impressive player who can easily drive past defenders. That's thanks to his agility and quickness. He also uses his slender body to try to score in the paint. Additionally, Smith has the confidence to stop quickly and take a mid-range jumper. He can also shoot a three-pointer either off the dribble or from a stationary position. He's a highly-skilled player with exceptional breakaway speed. That makes him an excellent offensive option in transition. Additionally, he has demonstrated his skills as a combo guard by working well with fellow freshman Anthony Black. Smith has also tried positioning himself better to score as an active cutter. While Griffin had a rough start to the March Madness tournament, his potential as an NBA-level player is still undeniable once he is fully healthy.

Live and breathe the NBA?

🚨 Get viral NBA graphics, memes, rumors and trending news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.


During the initial phase of March Madness, Smith appeared to force his offensive game. That's possibly due to the pressure of meeting high expectations. This manifested in his tendency to isolate himself from the rest of the offense. He then took poor shots off the dribble or drove into traffic without a clear plan.

One of Smith's primary weaknesses is that he doesn't contribute much to the game when he isn't scoring. Against Illinois, for example, he scored just six points while missing 10 shots. He also did not register a single rebound or assist. His lack of impact extended to his playing time against Kansas. In that game, he only played for 16 minutes because his offensive game was lacking. He was also not making any significant contributions in other areas of the game.

And then in the Razorbacks' Sweet 16 loss to the UConn Huskies, Smith shot 4-of-9 from the field to finish with 11 points. He also had two triples and two rebounds. He really is a scorer, but sadly, not much else.

On the other hand, when Smith slows down and takes a more patient approach to the game, his true potential as a player emerges. He actually showed in his earlier projections as the first pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, Smith has struggled with injuries this season. Those have severely limited the opportunities for him to showcase his full abilities. That said, despite a lackluster start to the tournament, Smith will have another chance to improve his draft stock during the upcoming Elite Eight games.

Possible Role

Smith's playing style is comparable to Tyrese Maxey of the Philadelphia 76ers. The thing is that both can serve as either a primary or secondary ball-handler. They also possess speed and the ability to score with or without the ball. Now, Maxey has a more well-rounded game, with his ability to contribute to playmaking and defense. Smith Jr., on the other hand, is all about scoring.

Nick Smith Jr. 2023 NBA Draft outlook

It's difficult to accurately predict Smith's draft range due to his injury. Yes, his immense talent is evident even in his limited appearances for the Razorbacks. Still, doubts can naturally arise if he doesn't play as much as his fellow lottery prospects. Some experts may place him at the forefront of the lottery. Meanwhile, others may question his knee injury and lower his position. Moreover, some may even depict him as a prospect with efficiency issues, labeling him as a score-first and pass-later guard. Ultimately, Smith may become a highly debated prospect in this class.

Again, remember that Smith was the top prospect in the 2022 recruiting cycle. However, his season with Arkansas was hindered by a persistent knee injury that affected both him and the team. Nevertheless, Arkansas has been playing well lately, despite Smith's inconsistent performances. Smith is a remarkable scorer with the potential to be a top-five pick if his medical condition is cleared.