Throughout the short span of this series, I've had a strong focus on the team taking a chance on "low-risk, medium-reward' players. Since my last piece, the Los Angeles Lakers have given that philosophy a whirl by acquiring forward Tarik Black off waivers from the Houston Rockets. While Black may experience some initial difficulties due to the abundance of frontcourt players on the team, the acquisition possibly mean the team could be willing to take on more "low-risk, medium-reward" talents in the future.
One of those possible players might be a name Lakers fans are already be familiar with in current D-Fenders forward Roscoe Smith. Prior to his stint with the D-Fenders, Smith spent time with the Lakers during training camp. Even though the odds were definitely against him from making it to the active roster, Smith made a positive impact on the organization.
The Lakers still had interest in the young forward despite being waived prior to the start of the regular season. After a slew of injures tore through the Lakers during the early stages of the season, Smith was one of the handful of players that were given private workouts from the team. Although the Lakers ultimately didn't sign him, or any of the other free agents they evaluated, Smith has done enough with the D-Fenders to continue receiving NBA looks.
The main reason behind the team's continued interest in Smith is because of the energy he exhibits on a possession-by-possession basis. Whether it would be as a help defender or working off-ball on the offensive end, Smith exhibits great controlled energy. While that energy might work against him on occasion, which is apparent from him averaging 2.6 turnovers per game, Smith has able to control it enough to become one of the highest-scoring forwards in the entire D-League.
With the reliance on that controlled aggression combined with a quick first step, Smith has proven himself to be one of the finest cutters in the D-League. After he's uses that lethal first step to get past his perimeter defender, Smith has a knack for changing directions on a dime, even during penetration, to create space from anybody that may come in his way. Even if he's unable to move away from him, Smith has the ability to square up and hit a floater.
Here's everything you need to know about Smith's game:
However, whenever Smith gets any kind of opening at the rim, it's definitely an exciting sight to behold. Whether it would be creating highlight-reel worthy slams or lacing in a layup despite being heavily pressured, he's nearly unstoppable in the restricted area. That particular statement is evident by him shooting 71% from in that area.
Perhaps the finest part of Smith's overall offensive arsenal is his work on the offensive boards. Despite his slender 6'8 frame, Smith is effective by just simply out-working the opposition. That energetic nature combined with his natural instincts has allowed Smith to average more than four offensive boards per game.
While Smith may be one of, if not, the most lethal offensive player in the entire D-League when he's working from inside the paint, he's still a work in progress when he moves out of his comfort zone. His jump shot looks beautiful, but Smith has failed to develop any real level of consistency. From between 16-24 feet away from the rim, Smith has shot 35%, which is right around league average.
That uncertainty continues to stagnate as he moves toward the perimeter. Smith is shooting 32% from the perimeter on only a single attempt per game. Clearly he's not comfortable with shooting from the perimeter, which is a weakness that has stood with him since his time in college with UNLV. While it would definitely be ideal for him to develop more of a perimeter jumper, it isn't vital as Smith can be effective in other ways.
One of the other ways that Smith has been effective would be on the defensive end. While Smith sits in that weird middle-ground between being a small and power forward, he can make up for that potential flaw by being able to quarterback the defensive unit. Even though there's definitely a difference between a college and NBA defense, Smith can quickly figure out and play against any type of offense, even if he does occasionally have his mental lapses.
Even though the Lakers are currently filled up at Roscoe Smith's designated position, wherever that would be, that shouldn't take away from the potential value he can bring to the team. Whether it would be as a cutter, offensive rebounder or all-around energy guy, Smith is the kind of player that can help out a team in a variety of different ways, which makes him into the ideal "low-risk, high-reward" player. Thankfully, the Lakers already have a close eye on him with the D-Fenders.