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American sharpshooter Chris Smith is ready to make his NBL debut

Tom Ballato The Next Prospect
By Tom Ballato

The NBL Blitz is complete, and the NBL regular season is just a few days away, but it’s safe to say that Chris Smith has arrived. 

After two seasons with the Chiba Jets of the Japanese B.League, Chris Smith has found a new home in Brisbane, Australia, signing a two-year deal with the Bullets. 

Smith is coming off an impressive campaign where he was named 2022-23 B-League Best Five and Sixth Man of the Year. 

It took him time to get to the level where he’s playing now. After playing two seasons at Utah State, he faced a transition period when he headed to Europe to play in Hungary. Traveling and adjusting to how they play basketball overseas took its toll on him. Smith couldn’t sleep the first few months due to jet lag and the time difference, but it finally clicked, and he returned to playing his game. 

The 6’4″ small forward has played his professional career in Hungary, France, Belgium, Poland, and Japan. When asked if a place has stood out to him, Smith stated, “I would say Poland because I was there shortly after Covid happened. I had a lot of time to sit and reflect to see if I still wanted to do this (play basketball), and I still did. I got into the gym again as I did in college, and it instantly paid off. We won the championship in Poland that year, so it was a great year for me.” 

The American sharpshooter has shot north of 40% from three every year but one. Smith attributes this to the mental side of his workouts. While training in the summer, he looks to make shots consecutively, like in a game, and take high-percentage shots.

In his two seasons in Japan, Smith shot 40.2% and 43.7% from three-point range. 

Chiba Jets 

Last year was a memorable season for the Chiba Jets and Smith. The Japanese club won 24 consecutive games, setting a B-League first-division record, and went 53-7 overall.  Smith was the Japanese B.League Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 16.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 23.6 minutes per game.

Chris Smith Chiba Jets
Photo Courtesy of the Japanese B. League

The fans made every road game feel like an advantage, and the players on the team were close, according to Smith. Spending a lot of time together made the team work harder for one another.  

Chiba had talent, both domestic and imported. Vic Law Jr. and John Mooney were the two talented American imports who played alongside Smith. 

The club fell short of their goal in the playoffs, but it was a memorable season nonetheless. 

Brisbane Bullets

The Brisbane have retooled their roster after a disappointing 2022-2023 season, bringing in Americans Shannon Scott and Smith, along with marquee players Aron Baynes and Nathan Sobey.

Smith is excited to get to work with his new teammates. He has researched the league, and his former teammates Vic Law Jr. and John Mooney played in the NBL, so they gave him a rundown of the NBL and how competitive it is. The NBL is a shorter season than Japan, and every game in Australia counts. 

“I’m excited. It is a competitive and elite league. I’m ready to meet the fanbase out there and the competitiveness. There are former NBA guys, and I’m ready for the physicality of what Australia brings,” said Smith. 

The Brisbane Bullets finished 1-2 in the NBL Blitz but have a lot to be excited about. They’re a team that plays for each other. The club appears ready to show their identity, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Smith shot impressively, making 11/20 from beyond the three-point line, and showed flashes of being a difference-maker in the NBL. He makes his NBL regular-season debut on September 29th, and you won’t want to miss it. 

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