Evaluating Dillingham, Smith at OTE!

This past weekend I traveled to Atlanta to visit Overtime Elite, where I evaluated two nights of a playoff series with Overtime Elite's Cold Hearts team facing Hillcrest Prep (Ariz.). As a result, I was able to watch many talented prospects play. Still, two players that could potentially be in the 2024 NBA Draft caught my eye: point guard Rob Dillingham and post Tyler Smith. I've seen both players many times before; however, today, I'd like to give you my most updated pulse on each.

Rob Dillingham, OTE (Hickory, N.C.)
6-1 | 170 | Guard | College: Kentucky
Game 1: 12 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST
Game 2: 22 PTS, 7 AST, 4 STL

I've been saying a lot lately that traditional big men and undersized guards are losing value at the NBA level at an alarming rate. So, at first glance, Dillingham doesn't necessarily scream "big-time NBA prospect," as he's not tall and has a slight build at 6-foot-1, 170. Once the ball is tipped, however, it's easy to see why Dillingham is highly touted. First, his speed, shiftiness, craftiness, and knack for getting to his spots and setting up his teammates by dishing the ball with perfect timing and feel are uncanny. And Dillingham is already a capable shot-maker, typically shooting off the dribble after constantly changing his pace and zig-zagging around the court while regularly getting up to speeds that seem like 100 miles per hour and stopping on a dime. Then, there's Dillingham's floor presence. There's no ignoring Dillingham while he's on the court, as he exudes an amount of confidence and swagger that's rarely seen in a player his age (18 years old). He talks a lot of trash and walks a fine line between having confidence that creates a competitive edge and being just a little too much. I think his approach can be effective if utilized properly. Still, again, he's walking a fine line, and I'm keeping a pulse on these elements of his game.

As I've collected my thoughts after my most recent exposure to Dillingham, I can't help myself to think of two players that I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time around: T.J. Ford and Brandon Jennings, both players who were lottery picks selected by my dad's team, the Milwaukee Bucks. (My dad, Dave Babcock, is the Bucks' director of player personnel, and has been with the team for more than 25 years.) Dillingham possesses Ford's jet speed and water bug quickness and Jennings' craftiness, shot-making, and swagger.

So the big looming question remains: is Dillingham special enough to be an exception to this newly unwritten rule about undersized guards in the NBA and become a top-tiered NBA prospect? Well, I think so, but I'm not entirely sure yet. So I'll watch him closely next season as he's set to head to Lexington to play for coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.

Tyler Smith, OTE (Houston, Texas)
6-10 | 214 | Forward/Center | College: N/A
Game 1: 21 PTS, 7 REB, 4-7 3PT
Game 2: 26 PTS, 8 REB, 3-6 3PT

Like Dillingham, I've seen Smith play many times before my latest trip to Overtime Elite. And actually, I remember precisely the first time I saw him play in person. It was at an AAU tournament in Dallas a couple of years ago. Then shortly after, in Houston, when he switched squads to team up with 2023 NBA Draft prospect Keyonte George (Baylor). Smith was probably around 6-foot-8 when I first saw him, and he showed flashes of versatility and an ability to stretch the floor by shooting the ball from outside.

I was intrigued.

Fast forward to now, and Smith is every bit 6-foot-10, and his body has begun to fill out. So at his current size, Smith is a lefty stretch big, as he typically plays faced towards the hoop outside on the perimeter. And he's capable of shooting from deep, which was evident in these two recent games I watched as he shot 7-of-13 from three-point range. Smith is also a capable finisher at the rim, utilizing primarily straight-line drives. However, he can also put it on the floor for a big guy and finish using some crafty finishes, euro steps, and different moves around the basket. I wouldn't say Smith is exceptionally explosive. Still, he's coordinated, skilled, and a good athlete, making him a well-rounded and versatile big on both ends of the floor.

Per Cerebro Sports, they have aggregated metrics from 45 of Smith's games at Overtime Elite and the high school level. Smith has made 62-of-192 three-point attempts (.322). Of course, those metrics don't necessarily suggest he'll become the next Dirk Nowitzki or Karl-Anthony Towns. However, I heard a veteran NBA coach once say, "we need our big men to shoot it well enough so that they keep the defense honest by having to guard them on the perimeter, providing necessary floor spacing." Well, I think Smith is already at that point in his development. Also, considering that he's developed a reputation for being one of the biggest gym rats in the Overtime Elite program, tells me he'll keep improving.

So over two years, my interest in Smith as an NBA prospect has transitioned from intrigue to excitement. And at this rate, I suspect the next characterization in my evaluation will be "promise."

Regardless, I'll be keeping close tabs on Tyler Smith moving forward.

If you read this, keep grinding, big fella!


2 Replies to “Evaluating Dillingham, Smith at OTE!”

  1. Nice feed back
    Have you seen Malik Newman play for OTE
    Would like to know your thoughts.
    Hope all is well with you and your family

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