Greg Smithtook the long road to the NBA. After going undrafted out of Fresno State, Smith played professionally in Mexico with Soles de Mexicali. He then earned a D-League contract with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a Houston Rockets affiliate. Eventually the Rockets called him up, and his play was solid enough for him to earn a three year contract and appear in 70 games last season.
This year, some attention focused on Smith after Omer Asik requested a trade and was subsequently absent from two games. Smith was expected to pick up extra minutes, but that didn’t really happen. He played just 40 seconds in the Rockets’ game against the New York Knicks that Asik missed.
Smith has seen over 10 minutes of floor time just once this season. He produced in that opportunity, though, scoring 12 points on 6-6 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Last year, Smith put up good numbers, averaging six points and 4.6 rebounds in over 15 minutes per game – good enough to average a double-double per-36 minutes.
This year, though, with the addition of Dwight Howard and the ensuing logjam at the Rockets’ big man positions, Smith has fallen out of the rotation. With the eventual trade of Asik looming in the future, it’s possible Smith’s role could increase soon. Smith is a good pick and roll player and a decent defender, both skills the Rockets need, so we will likely see him as the primary backup to Howard sometime soon.
Despite his long road to the league, Smith is still just 22 and has plenty of room to grow and improve on a young Rockets squad. Look for his minutes and production to increase as the season goes on.