Jerry Smith Learning Transition Game in NBA Development League
Former Tosa East, Louisville star hones point guard skills with Springfield Armor.
For Jerry Smith, life on the basketball court is going pretty well. And his outlook outside of basketball is a bit brighter also.
While trying to achieve his ultimate professional dream of making it in the National Basketball Association, his mind always returns back home to Wauwatosa. He constantly thinks about his mother, Kimberly, who is a breast cancer survivor. Kimberly Smith had a re-occurrence of that dreaded disease last year but the cancer is now in remission and she is slowly getting back to health after undergoing chemotherapy.
His mother’s improving health is encouraging to Smith. But for him, seeing is believing. And he gets to do that on Skype.
“It is good thing,” Smith said about being able to talk and see his mother. “We talk about a lot of different things. To be able to see her is great. It almost seems as if you are not gone. It’s almost as if you have never left.”
Smith said he talks to his mother on a regular basis, particularly after games. And he’s had some good news to report recently.
The former Wauwatosa East and Louisville basketball star is going through a transition as a member of the Springfield (Mass.) Armor of the NBA Development League. The Development League consists of 16 teams that play 50 games per season. The league provides an opportunity for would-be NBA players to develop a particular skill necessary to land a coveted roster spot in the big league.
While the NBA revolves its marketing strategy around its stars such as LeBron James, Dywane Wade and Derrick Rose, the difference between winning and losing depends on role players. And for Jerry Smith, his role on the next level will be that of a point guard.
“I played off the ball in college, so playing in the Development League is giving me a chance to develop,” Smith said recently. “As a point guard, you have to worry about every guy on the team, not just yourself. I have to know where everybody has to be, you have to micromanage the game.”
Smith is averaging 12.7 points and three assists per game as a reserve for the Armor. He’s playing on average about 24 minutes per game. While Smith has been concentrating on distributing the basketball, he did have one big scoring game recently. He scored 33 points in 31 minutes in a 106-105 loss to Fort Wayne on March 17.
Smith has been working under the tutelage of Coach Dee Brown, who played in the NBA as a point guard for 12 seasons.
“He has improved his point guard skills as the season has progressed,” Brown said about Smith.. “He has been improving his decision making in pick-and-roll situations and he’s done a better job directing his teammates.”
The Armor has struggled, winning only 12 of 45 games as of March 21. But Smith said the experience has benefited him from a personal level.
“I’m very excited about being here,” Smith said. “I’m taking a step in the right direction. I’m learning how to play the NBA game. In the D-League, the rules are the same as the NBA. I am happy with the direction that I am going in.”
The league has teams throughout the country in towns such as Des Moines, IA, Sioux Falls, SD, and Austin, TX. It’s all been a good learning experience, Smith said.
“We don’t practice as much as we did in college,” he said. “There’s a lot more travel, but it’s been a lot of fun.”