The Detroit Pistons player you probably did not know was on team

Chris Smith #5 of the UCLA Bruins (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
Chris Smith #5 of the UCLA Bruins (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

Chris Smith has been a member of the Detroit Pistons since he signed a two-way contract back in July. However, he has yet to play a game in the NBA. Most fans do not even realize he is part of the team, That should change soon.

When you are not looking to be a title contender immediately, you can roll the dice a bit on prospects. The Pistons did that with Chris Smith, a 6-foot-9 guard out of UCLA.

Smith was a rising young player for the Bruins. He was coming off a solid junior season for the Bruins, averaging 13.1 points a game. As a very tall guard, he was projected, at the very least, to be a second round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. If he continued to play well and show improvement, maybe sneak into the back end of the first round.

However, Smith tore his ACL eight games into his senior year. He went undrafted and Detroit quickly scooped him up and signed him to a two-way deal. Because of the knee, Smith could not play in summer league or participate in training camp.

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Smith did not make his professional debut until January 16, scoring six points for the Motor City Cruise in a G-League contest. After a year off, and unable to even practice most of that time, one can excuse Smith if he is a bit rusty.

However, Detroit thinks enough of the rust has been scraped off, as coach Dwane Casey recently revealed Smith will soon be in action for the Pistons.

So it appears Smith, as well as Livers, will get some playing time as Detroit finishes the season.

How Casey fits them in to the lineup will be interesting. Frankly, the Pistons have looked pretty good of late, with wins over definite playoffs teams Cleveland and Boston. The current players are not giving Casey any reason to cut back their minutes – which is a good thing.

Based on last season, expect some ‘injuries’ to key players, or some in need of a lot of ‘rest’. (It was hilarious how Mason Plumlee was ‘resting’ the last 10 games of the season, except when they played Joel Embiid and the 76ers.)

If Smith is put in at small forward, he will be in the same spot as Hamidou Diallo and Saddiq Bey as a small forward. As a two-guard, he would be taking minutes from Cory Joseph and, maybe, Cade Cunningham.

Due to the pandemic, the NBA has relaxed its rules on how many games two-way players can play with the NBA team. Basically, Casey has a free hand to play Smith as much as he wants.

Smith is averaging 8.9 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Motor City Cruise. Of course, this is after almost a year off.

Smith’s contract expires at the end of the season, the Pistons are undoubtedly anxious to see what he can do so they can evaluate him.

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If the team continues to play well, it will be interesting to see how Casey is able to fit Smith into the rotation. It is something he has stated, and must be done before his contract expires.