'13-'14 YEAR IN REVIEW: Basil Smotherman
Note: This is the fifth of the postseason Year In Review series. Click that shiny link to see them all. They will recap their 2013-2014 season, show their “GIF of the Year”, state my favorite nicknames, and give a best/worst case scenario for next season.
Warning: stuff got real weird for my best/worst case scenarios.
2013-2014 season recap
LOOK AT THAT WINGSPAN. LOOK AT IT.
More than the 5.0 points and 3.8 rebounds in 19 minutes per game, last year we learned that Basil Smotherman as a freak athlete with the beginnings of an NBA frame…with very raw actual basketball skills.
Smotherman would produce only during short, athleticism-fueled bursts early in the season, where he could use his body to outleap opposing bench units. Once Big Ten season started, there were slight dips in Smotherman’s offensive production, as a higher average talent level (going along with no defined role in a meandering offensive system) started to minimize his tangible impacts.
That being said, the strides he made strides late last year were very promising, especially considering the shot distribution above. Take a look at the two videos below (in the Nickname section) if you want a taste of where most of his offensive production came from. Spoiler alert: Smotherman thrived when he was cutting along the baseline, leading BTN’s Stephen Bardo to give Basil the nickname “The Baseline Assassin”. As that shot chart displays, Smotherman leveraged his otherworldly athleticism into a great field goal percentage at the rim, giving him a potentially well-defined space creating role in the offensive system.
Smotherman came in very raw, but possesses tools to become truly great. To me, the ultimate optimist’s vision of Smotherman’s hopeful development is as a lesser version of Victor Oladipo at IU. Now before you whip your pitchforks out, I can’t express how much I admired Oladipo’s work ethic during his final year in Bloomington, where he made a leap from fringe role player to second overall draft pick. I’ve never seen anything like it, and that deserves to be recorded as an undeniable win by (the hot-seat dwelling) Tom Crean…and, more importantly, a model for how Basil Smotherman can develop into a truly impactful player at Purdue.
Defensively is where Smotherman showed the biggest leap forward during Big Ten season. He went head to head against Sam Dekker and Adreian Payne (the former is the Big Ten’s best pro prospect while the latter was the most recent first round Atlanta Hawks pick) and absolutely held his own. This defensive potential gives Smotherman an avenue for instant impact, forcing his way past some more skilled wings above him on the depth chart. The way basketball is evolving, the "3 and D” wing has become the most coveted role player at every level (especially with stats-conscious NBA teams like the Spurs, Rockets, and Thunder). That’s Smotherman’s ideal role on this secretly-deep roster.
During a reflective interview this summer, Basil gave himself a “C” for his freshman season. Considering expectations and potential, I would give him a B-. He was fun to watch when things were going, but absolutely disappeared when he couldn’t find good cutting lanes.
In that same interview, Basil gave quotes that have me unbelievably excited for his next three years, and think he’ll take the increased competition at wing in stride.
- “I don’t want to be good, I want to be great.”
- He wants to be more than a ‘spark’ off the bench, and specifically wants to improve rebounding and shooting. This is exactly what he should be focusing on after his freshman year.
- Nik Stauskas is the player he wants to turn in to. You know, a top ten pick in one of the NBA’s deepest draft classes.
- Errick Peck had a huge influence on him, and he wants to be a stretch 4.
- Finally: he’s “not satisfied”. Yet another sign that chemistry problems could be in Purdue’s past.
All signs point to a great year from Basil...except for one stark reality: Based on all off-season reports, Smotherman seems to be 5th on Coach Painter’s depth chart of wings. Kendall Stephens, Ray Davis, Vince Edwards, and Dakota Mathias all seem to be ahead of him in the rotation, primarily because they all bring an elite-level skill to the court. (The one exception: Davis, who just happens to be the team captain.) If Basil becomes the best wing defender on the roster, which is a definite possibility, I can see an avenue for him to get on the floor. But it’s equally likely that he gets buried on the bench, and we have to hope he remains content in that role.
Otherwise…well…let’s not talk about another t-word possibility. I’d much rather picture Smotherman alley-ooping on scrubs, appearing on multiple SportsCenter Top Ten lists, and being the go-to defender in tough conference matchups. The Baseline Assassin could become Purdue’s secret weapon.
GIF of the year
Nickname: The Baseline Assassin
Also, “Basil Smotherman” is an all-time fantastic normal human name.
Unsolicited BS Advice for 2014-2015
Focus on wreaking havoc on the defensive end, which is the biggest unarticulated need for this team. A defensive combination with Bryson Scott could make Purdue’s bench unit a cut above the rest, which is key for this team to leap above the minimal expectations set by most media “experts”. Keep finishing strong at the rim, but don’t be afraid of contact. Getting to the line (and nailing free throws) is a sure-fire way to leap the freshman wings currently slotted high on the depth chart.
More than anything: force the coaching staff to rely on these defensive skills.
Also: stick with the two-tone arm band.
BEST/WORST: Remember, this is the top and bottom of the spectrum. The most likely scenario is somewhere in the middle. (Worst case scenarios come with a complimentary side of ACL tears.)
Best case: The Baseline Assassin uses his massive length and athleticism to launch a successful four year career, becoming an All-Big Ten lock-down defender and dead eye 3 point shooter. He grows to 6’8” with a 7’ wingspan, and is Jay Bilas’ wet dream as a draft prospect. Basil turns into the steal of the 2017 NBA draft class, as he’s a perfect 3-and-d energy guy for a perennial playoff contender (basically, he becomes a better-looking Chandler Parsons, or Kawhi Leonard 2.0). He grows some corn rows, hits a clutch shot in Game 7 of the NBA finals and, because the viewing public has such a short attention span, gets voted as an unlikely Finals MVP. His rapid ascension draws the attention of all high-major prospects in the Midwest, who flock to West Lafayette to drink Matt Painter’s wing-development Kool Aid.
Worst case: Ray Davis taking the leadership reigns surges him ahead of Basil in the small-forward depth chart. Smotherman responds by disappearing further into his shell. His athletic potential is only utilized through a few sweet dunks (on the baseline, of course), but he never develops beyond that. Minutes reduced, Basil ditches the sweet two-tone arm sleeve, starts listening to a ton of Nickelback and decides to grow Chad Kroeger-like long blonde locks. He leaves Purdue in the summer of 2015 to become the next frontman for a Bloomington-based Creed cover band.