13.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.3 steals, 1.6 turnovers, 58% FG, 68% FT, 40% 3PT
The 67 college combo-forward that projects as more of a swingman in the NBA has had quite a few stat sheet stuffing games so far this season, highlighted by a 22 point, 7 rebound, 8 assist outbreak against Louisiana Lafayette in just 25 minutes of playing time. Smiths versatility has been on full display, as hes been doing anything and everything the Volunteers need him to do, showing flashes of virtually every skill you can look for in a player. Hes defended the post, defended the perimeter, rebounded, created offense for teammates, hit mid-range floaters, scored in the post, taken defenders off the dribble, gotten out in transition, and hit shots from behind the arc. And while hes flashing all kinds of skills left and right, hes not making many mistakes in the process, shooting an extremely efficient 58% from the field (up from 44%), averaging 1.7 points per shot (up from 1.2), and averaging just 1.6 turnovers (down from 3.0). As Smith gets even more comfortable with his new team, and if he can get his minutes per game up from 25 per game to the 30-35 range, hell probably post at least one triple double by seasons end.
Coming into the season, Smiths biggest weakness was his outside shot, and despite some good indications early on, that still probably remains true. Hes hit four of his first 10 attempts from behind the arc, and his mechanics look a little cleaned up, but he still has a tendency flail his arms to the side on his release. A consistent outside shot is the most notable thing lacking from Smiths offensive repertoire, and adding that would certainly improve his stock as a wing prospect.
One area Smith has looked extremely impressive with in the early going is his passing game, which is outstanding for a small forward prospect. He shows excellent court vision and has good passing skills from all areas of the court. Hes made crisp cross-court passes from the post, alley-oop lobs from behind the three-point arc, no-look dishes in transition, and feeds to the post. On one specific play in the game against UL-Lafayette, Smith, a righty, calmly was dribbling the ball at the top of the three-point arc, and he effortlessly made a strong, quick, perfectly placed, left-handed bounce pass under his defenders arm to a cutter in the lane.
Smith uses his athleticism well in all facets of the game, especially attacking the boards. He does a good job heading towards the basket and using his length to pull down rebounds over the opposition. Smiths athleticism is also on display in transition, where he runs the floor and finishes with some explosive dunks.
On the defensive end, Smith is very active and shows very good anticipation in the passing lanes, where he also uses his length and good hands to pick off a lot of balls. Hes forced to defend the post on occasion, where he has some obvious problems with larger players, but hes active moving from fronting to playing his man straight up, using his length to cut off passing lanes. One especially impressive thing about Smiths defense is how he always plays both his man and the ball, staying very aware of both and being sure to stay in between them, playing good prevent defense.
Smith has seemed to take his game to the next level this season, which will definitely be more evident if hes given more minutes in Tennessees rotation as the season goes on. He has a great foundation of skills and has excellent energy on the floor, so theres no reason to think he wont continue to improve those skills in time. He could come out this year and be considered a potential first round prospect, but theres a very good chance he could make significant strides with his game if he spent another year in college, which would possibly put him in the mix to end up as a lottery candidate. Theres even a chance that could happen this year if he continues to improve his game and gets more minutes to showcase his skills.
Antoine Agudio, 6-3, Senior, PG/SG, Hofstra
27.4 points, 4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.6 turnovers, 46% FG, 48% 3P, 79% FT
Agudio spent much of the summer working with New York City based trainers Jay Hernandez and Ross Burns, and the early results were noticing comparing his film from last year with this seasons has been fairly substantial. Agudio looks like a more fluid and confident player, stronger, and with some better shot-creating moves in his arsenal. Whereas last year he was asked to share ball-handling duties with one point guard (Carlos Rivera) and another dominant high scoring combo guard (Loren Stokes), this season Agudio is basically by himself when it comes to providing leadership and go-to scoring ability for a very young Hofstra squad.
Built very well for a combo guard, Agudio has decent size at 6-3, a nice frame, and a very good wingspan. Hes not a freakish athlete by any means, but he does move well around the court, with a certain fluidity and elegance to his game not all that unlike Toronto swingman Anthony Parker, albeit a couple of inches shorter.
As you can guess by his astronomical percentages, Agudio is a lights out shooter through and through. Hes hitting 48% of his 3-pointers on the season so far, taking over 8 and a half attempts per game from beyond the arconly a handful of which have come on clean looks. He has picture perfect shooting mechanics, able to set his feet in an instant with outstanding balance and get his shot off in the blink of an eye thanks to his quick release. He can catch and shoot coming off screens, but is particularly adept creating separation and pulling up off the dribble, either from mid-range or beyond the arcmoving left or right or fading away with a hand in his face. Agudio has hit over 300 3-pointers in his career so far, and has never shot less than 42% from that range in any given season. Guys like Daniel Gibson and Damon Jones come to mind when watching him play, and its not hard to think that hes going to be given some very serious looks in private workouts this June based off his outstanding perimeter shooting skills alone.
Thankfully for him and his team, though, Agudio is more than just an excellent shooter. Hes also a pretty good ball-handler, nothing outstanding (particularly with his left hand), but certainly more than good enough to keep defenses honest. Only 45% of his points at the moment come from behind the arc (very similar to last year), so its clear that he can create offense for himself in other ways besides just with his shooting stroke. Agudio has good body control and a very aggressive mentality, allowing him to get inside the paint from time to time with nice long strides and some slight hesitation moves, and either draw contact or finish craftily with a floater or short pull-up jumper. Hes not the greatest finisher in the world from what we can tell (his left hand needs a lot of work here), but hes tough enough to get to the free throw line nearly 7 times per game this season (4.8 per game last year).
Standing 6-3, most NBA teams are going to want to see Agudio show more point guard skills than hes probably been able to display at Hofstra so far. He plays mostly off the ball, but will bring the ball up the floor from time to time and get his (very uptempo) team into their offense. For being such a prolific scorer, some might expect Agudio to be a bit on selfish side as many mid-major combo guards are. The fact of the matter is that hes anything but that, appearing to be nothing short of an outstanding teammate, and a real facilitator when presented with opportunities to create for others. He clearly has a very high basketball IQ, and looks committed to making good decisions and making big plays for his team, either himself or by setting up a teammate. The problem is that he doesnt have much talent around him (to put things lightly), so in order for his team to have any real chance at winning, he needs to shoot the ball 20 times or more every game, and even that sometimes isnt enough. Something that was very telling in the Charlotte game from this past weekend that we analyzed was the fact that during the last 5 minutes of the game, it was Agudio the one that played the point for his team almost exclusively, acting as the teams leader and floor general throughout.
Part of the reason for that is the fact that most opposing teams number one gameplan to beat Hofstra is to keep the ball out of Agudios hands. We saw plenty of Box and Ones, traps off pick and rolls, shameless double-teams, and plenty of face-guarding by various opponents trying to slow down Agudio. Whats sad is that that often works, as his very young teammates often struggle to find a way to take advantage and put the ball in the basket themselves. Agudio has to work incredibly hard to get every shot he ends up taking, at times looking pretty exhausted out there on the floor. Thats what makes his outstanding percentages this season all the more impressive, as you can only imagine how well hed be shooting if he actually got some more clean looks from time to time.
Defensively, Agudio looked very solid in the minutes we evaluated him. He seems committed to stopping his man and playing good team defense, also acting as a bit of a floor general on this end of the floor, particularly when his team is playing zone. He might not have the greatest lateral quickness, nor does he look like a very dangerous threat playing the passing lanes, but the focus and fundamentals are clearly there, and at this level thats usually enough to get the job done. He also seems to do a good job hitting the glass.
So where does that leave him as far as this years draft is concerned? Thats a good question. If Agudio can find a way to keep himself at the top of the scoring ranks and still manage to shoot a high percentage from the field, hes going to be in very good shape. Either way, hell surely be invited to show his stuff at Portsmouth, where he will be able to show that he can hold his own with high-major athletes and then move onto the pre-draft camp, which will be a big test for him. Agudio appears to be one of the best shooters the college game has to offer, and that alone will get him plenty of looks. Whether that translates into an NBA roster spot is still very much up in the air, but he should get his fair chance to show that he belongs.
James Harden, 65, SG, Freshman, Arizona State
16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.9 steals, 2.3 turnovers, 55% FG, 84% FT, 42% 3PT
Hardens game starts on the offensive end, where he can stroke it from behind the arc or take the ball to the basket, but not do much in between. Harden has been efficient with his spot-up outside shot in the early going, hitting 42% of his shots, but has taken only 19 attempts, and has had very inconsistent results. His shooting form is very solid, but he needs to get more consistent with the results.
Harden uses the threat of his shot well to fake and get past his man, often taking the ball to the basket from behind the three-point arc with ease. He has a strong left-handed dribble and is respectable with his right, though he takes extremely long strides with the ball, getting him to the basket very quickly even though he doesnt possess elite athleticism. Harden has shown some nice stop-and-pivot drives along with the ability to adjust and take contact in mid-air, looking outstanding on some occasions, but sometimes makes peculiar decisions in the lane, not reading situations well and making poor choices of what moves to use. These are likely typical freshman mistakes as he acclimates himself to the new level of competition, as at times hes shown great flashes of awareness.
Harden is also a pretty good passer for a wing, showing good court vision, especially in transition, though he doesnt seem to have any point or combo guard in him. He doesnt tend to dribble a lot on the perimeter or in transition, just using his dribble when he needs to get to the rim. Harden also makes his presence felt on the boards, attacking the rim on both ends of the court, already having three 8+ rebound games.
On the defensive end, Harden uses his length very well to disrupt, picking off passes from the weakside or contesting and blocking shots on the perimeter. He is very active and aware while showing a good defensive stance, though his lateral quickness hasnt been extensively tested with Arizona State playing a lot of zone defense.
Harden still has a lot to work on with his game, improving the consistency on his outside shot, reading situations better on drives, and adding a mid-range game to his repertoire, but hes off to a good start to his collegiate career. He has adequate size, strength, and athleticism for an NBA shooting guard, and has a good foundation of skill to go along with it. Its too early to accurately project what kind of prospect Harden will be considered by the time he comes out in a few years, but he is certainly in a good situation to showcase himself getting great playing time in the Pac-10 with Arizona State.