Terquavion Smith: 2022 NBA Draft Scouting Report
A fast riser up our boards, Smith combines high self-creation upside with impactful catch-and-shoot ability
Warning: The following is extremely flammable. Proceed with caution.
We’re ready to pour gasoline onto the fire. We found our late riser, and did not expect to do so. Terquavion Smith of North Carolina State jumped out to us as a guy who meets a lot of the criteria we look for in an explosive scorer for the NBA.
We knew Smith was a really good scorer and watched five or six games throughout the regular season that NC State played in. He stood out in some, then didn’t in others. But he got much better as the season went on, combines on-ball and off-ball scoring in a tantalizing way and only has room to grow forward.
A month ago, we thought Smith was nearly certain to withdraw from the draft and return to school, whether that was NC State or elsewhere. At just 160 pounds, his frame is so slender that he’s unlikely to make any impact on an NBA floor in 2022-23. His explosive scoring upside led us to believe that another year in college could see him add strength while averaging 20 points per game in a major conference and positioning himself for a 2023 lottery pick.
That path is still very much open. But what is also open is Terquavion turning into this year’s Josh Primo: a young scoring guard who a team buys into a year in advance at a discounted price. The similarities between Smith and Primo are real. They’re both fairly young for their class, flew a tad under the radar their freshman seasons, and combine that on-ball and off-ball potential. It’s an important combo that allows for a solid floor (off-ball guards who can shoot it can play next to a primary creator) with a really high upside due to the self-creation.
Smith is still far from reaching that upside on-ball. He has an ability to make shots from deep range off the bounce and score in isolations off step-backs. He’s not an elite athlete by any means, so the shiftiness and mastery of angles or craft is necessary to impact how he scores inside the arc.
Besides that, Terquavion is far away from being able to run an offense. His playmaking out of ball screens is nowhere near NBA caliber. He has a score-first mentality with poor passing and decision-making mechanics. Frankly, we have a difficult time envisioning Smith ever averaging more than five assists a game, and that’s on really high volume as a lead scorer.
So why the optimism about Smith? NBA teams are freaking great at teaching. Terquavion plays with a verve and creative freedom that is impossible to teach. If that gets combined with pick-and-roll decision-making that a coaching staff can develop, he can become passable with his feel to become a more balanced offensive hub. What he lacks at the moment — physical strength, playmaking feel, point of attack defense — can all be developed. We feel comfortable that he provides first-round value eventually, and would use a first-round pick on him as a result of that.
Feel is a term that gets thrown a lot in the draft landscape. Most often it pairs with passing, decision-making and IQ. Feel and freedom or creativity go hand-in-hand as well. Terquavion may not have a great amount of feel as a passer right now, but the feel he has for unique scoring and creativity off the bounce gives some promise that he’s an offensive piece who can march to the beat of his own drum.