Those who had heard of Greg Smith prior to the 2012-13 NBA season could definitely be defined as die hard hoops fans. Smith, an unknown out of Fresno State (2011), didn’t experience a traditional route to the NBA, but now as a member of the Houston Rockets, Smith has established himself as a borderline starter.
Smith received his first start for the Rockets against the Clippers last Saturday, a monumental feat for a guy who went undrafted and had to play in Mexico before getting a shot at the league, and he did enough to suggest that the 22-year-old forward may one day become a regular NBA starter.
Maybe we’re overreacting; Smith did manage just nine points and eight rebounds against the Clippers, but he did a commendable job in holding star Blake Griffin to a 12-point, three-rebound night. Against the Magic, Smith showed the efficiency the Rockets’ coaching staff has come to value, scoring 12 points and adding four rebounds in his second career start.
There’s a good chance Smith remains the Rockets’ starter at the power forward position for the remainder of the season. Dontas Motiejunas has managed just 14 starts from 37 appearances and the recently acquired Thomas Robinson is simply too raw.
Smith is the Rockets’ best defender at his position and although he’s not fantastic when guarding opposition centers, he’s a solid rebounder with a 17.0 TRB%. Smith’s conservative approach on the offensive end makes him a nice compliment as the team looks to develop center Omer Asik in the post and doesn’t take away too much of the focus from proven scorers in James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin.
It’s yet to be determined how high the Rockets are on Smith as the permanent starter going forward, but whatever his role, Smith has already proven he’s a commodity worth having at the highest level.
Robert White covers the Houston Rockets for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.