The Minnesota Timberwolves are signing Raptors 905 big man Greg Smith to a 10-day contract, according to a report from Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor.
It’s been a heck of a week for the 905, who also graduated Axel Toupane to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. In the words of head coach Jesse Mermuys from the D-League Showcase, “I hope they all get called up,” and back-to-back promotions suggests the 905 are doing something well in Mississauaga.
Smith never seemed long for the D-League, joining the 905 in January with the hopes of landing a quick call-up to return to the NBA. Immediately the most experienced member of the 905, the 25-year-old Smith already has 131 games of NBA experience under his belt, spanning four seasons with Houston and Dallas. Undrafted as a sophomore out of Fresno State in 2011, he was an earlier D-League success story, turning a strong rookie season with Rio Grande Valley into a December call-up from Houston.
In 131 NBA games, Smith averaged 4.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 0.4 blocks while shooting 62.2 percent from the floor.
He’s been a solid addition to the 905, too, at a time when they really needed one. With Ronald Roberts out hurt and Lucas Nogueira rarely assigned from the Toronto Raptors, Mermuys has leaned on Smith to man both frontcourt positions and help initiate offense from the block or elbows. Smith’s a strong enough passer to work in high-low situations alongside Sim Bhullar or push it from block to block if a defense shades his way
That passing from the post has opened up some quick-hitter plays for the 905, who will have Smith move immediately from a pass into a low screen-and-roll, where his strong lower half and soft hands come into good use.
Those hands still haven’t materialized at the free-throw line, long a Smith weakness, as he’s shooting 61.4 percent from the stripe with the 905. He’s getting there a ton, too, which is a good thing but exasperates his occasional cold shooting. Opposing defenses have had difficulty with Smith post-ups or attacks from the elbows, and while Smith’s only shooting 54 percent in the paint and rarely firing from outside of it, the net result has been a solid true-shooting percentage of 55..
In 17 games, Smith is averaging 12.6 points, eight rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals. His arrival coincided with a serious upswing in team performance, and the 905 have outscored opponents by 8.3 points per-100 possessions with Smith on the court. That’s not all on Smith, who happened to arrive as Bhullar and Toupane took off and the team found their groove, but he’s certainly helped.
it’s perhaps surprising that a team in Minnesota’s position is opting for a bit of a retread instead of getting a look at an unknown like Ronald Roberts (banged up) or Raphiael Putney (perhaps a bit undersized), but Smith’s still just 25 and brings a semblance of scoring, playmaking, and poise inside.
His absence will hurt the 905 pretty seriously, and Mermuys may have to experiment with going either super-small or really big, with Keanau Post or Michale Kyser at the four alongside Bhullar. There aren’t many options with Roberts hurt and Smith and Toupane called up, but that is, in the words of Marlo Stanfield, one of them good problems – the Raptors are doing well identifying and acquiring talent and then doing a good job putting those players in positions to improve and succeed. No, the Raptors organization isn’t reaping the benefits of that non-assignee development just yet – control over D-League players stands to be a major talking point in the next round of collective bargaining – but these are unquestionably positive signs.