Phoenix Suns saw Jalen Smith as 'Jerami Grant type player' coming out of Maryland

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Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams talks with forward Jalen Smith (10) in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.
Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams talks with forward Jalen Smith (10) in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

DETROIT – Jalen Smith has shown a nose for the ball during this run of extended minutes.

Grabbing at least 12 rebounds in four of Phoenix's last nine games, Smith has snatched down a career 14 twice. He reached that number in Friday's win at Indiana.

Suns head coach Monty Williams has rewarded Smith with more minutes, but said he didn't see Smith's knack to grab boards when watching him at Maryland.

"No, I saw a different player," Williams said before Sunday's game at Detroit. "We've always compared him to a Jerami Grant type player to be honest with you. I was off on that. I think he's probably best served playing that five position with the way that he played and started during this stretch where we all had COVID."

Grant, the big acquisition for the Pistons going into the 2020-21 season, is averaging a career-best 21.6 points and 4.7 rebounds in his two seasons in Detroit.

Smith has averaged 11.5 points and 9.1 rebounds in this nine-game stretch. In college, the 6-10 big averaged 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in his second and final season before the Suns selected him10th overall in the 2020 draft.

Phoenix didn't pick up his third-year option, thus making him an unrestricted free agent this summer after just his second NBA season.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Suns saw Jalen Smith as 'Jerami Grant type player' coming out of Maryland

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