The Philadelphia 76ers are loaded with a ton of talent. While a lot of players are widely known in terms of talent, who should be considered the most underrated player entering this upcoming season?
The Philadelphia 76ers are loaded with young talent on the roster; ranging from Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Dario Saric. While most people are used to seeing these names pop up in headlines it’s easy to forget about some of under-the-radar players that can drastically effect the Sixers’ season.
Last season, we saw that the Sixers’ starting five (Simmons, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington, Saric, Embiid) produced at an elite level. However, a consistent issue with the roster was that the bench had a lack of depth; especially with the wings.
While there was offensive struggle, the predominate issue was that these players couldn’t consistently play defense. The roster lacked talent that could get a stop players from scoring at a high rate; outside of their starting five.
We saw GM (at the time) Brett Brown try to address this problem in the offseason by drafting Zhaire Smith, who I believe is the most underrated player going into this season.
There was a lot of controversy back in June when the Sixers traded away Mikal Bridges for Zhaire Smith. In the long term, Smith can develop into a very important player for the Sixers.
Smith does have a way to go with develop, especially on the offensive side of the ball. As of right now, Zhaire Smith can offer the Sixers something that they are currently lacking: a lockdown defender off the bench.
Last season, we saw the Sixers struggle to cover athletic wings, such as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Smith is a player that can guard point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, and to some degree power forwards.
Right now, Zhaire Smith can offer defensive versatility that the Sixers lack off the bench.
When focusing on this season, the expectations for Zhaire Smith can range. Some expect him to spend a massive amount of time in the G-League with the Delaware Blue Coats, while others can argue that he will immediately be put into the rotation.
His offensive production will be a huge factor in determining how many minutes he will get. If Zhaire Smith can come in and shoot the three ball at an average or better clip, he could see a massive amount of minutes.
I personally expect that Zhaire Smith will become a regular rotation player for the team, within a month or so of him being healthy. He’s someone who can come off the bench and provide a spark. I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw him getting around 20 minutes each night, on a regular basis.
Recently, Brett Brown stated that we could see Zhaire Smith come back sometime in December. This is great news for Zhaire’s development, as he will be able to play over half the season with the team.
How much of an impact can the 19 year-old Zhaire Smith make in his rookie year? Only time will tell. He can help fill in a massive hole in the roster right now, and he is a player that should command your attention when he returns.