Many simply know him as the guy behind the desk next to Charles Barley and Shaquille O’Neal on NBA TNT Thursday’s, but the truth is that Kenny Smith did, in fact, play the game of basketball at a high level in the NBA for nearly a decade.
Despite being drafted inside the top 10 by Sacramento in 1987, Smith was by no means a franchise-altering talent, but he did wind up an exceptional role player who understood his limitations and did what was asked of him at a high level.
At his core, The Jet was a knockdown outside shooter. His volume of attempts wasn’t at the level of some of today’s best snipers, but he commanded respect from the perimeter which opened up the offense for those around him, whether it be as a stationary floor spacer or as a guy constantly flying off screens.
The thing is, he wasn’t just a one-dimensional shooter. Smith could handle the basketball and create looks with his passing and IQ. He was fairly quick which allowed him to get out on the break, and on the defensive end, the former UNC product had a high motor which kept him in front of most perimeter players.
Smith’s tenure with the Kings lasted about two and a half years, and he’d eventually play a key role in the Rockets back-to-back championships in 1994-95. So, while his imprint in Sac-Town didn’t turn out to be as large as it could’ve been, he flashed the talent that would make him such a valuable role player later on in his career.