Two-time premiership Kangaroo David King has called on the Western Bulldogs to find a new way to get more out of young star Bailey Smith, suggesting a big-name mentor for the 21-year-old could help elevate his game further.
Smith has gone from strength to strength in his four years in the AFL, but has hit a new level in 2022.
He’s been required to utilise his huge aerobic capacity more this season, consistently playing over 90 per cent game time as a midfielder.
The top 10 pick from 2018 is coming off a performance on Friday night where he racked up a game-high 41 possessions against Collingwood, but King questioned the effect he had on the contest.
“I’m fascinated by Bailey Smith,” King began on SEN’s Crunch Time.
“Now, Adam Treloar was best on ground, and he had 35 touches, he had a lot of footy, nine score involvements and three goals.
“But Bailey Smith, he’s had 41 disposals again, he’s involved in a lot of scores, but a lot of the scores that he’s involved with are happening because someone else does something in the possession chain that makes it a score.
“At the moment, his damage is 10 per cent of what it should be.”
Smith has already proved his worth on the big stage as one of the players of the finals series up to the Grand Final loss to Melbourne in 2021, but King needs to see more damage from the “marquee player”.
The North Melbourne great sees similarities in Smith’s game to West Coast and Carlton legend Chris Judd, suggesting the Dogs go after the two-time Brownlow Medallist for a mentoring role.
“I think this guy, he’s got the potential to be the best player in the competition, I really think that highly of him.
“I think they need to strap him to someone who’s played that role before and dominated in that specific role of breakaway from traffic, get yourself into space, then lower the speed, lower the tempo and finish whether that’s a pass, change angle, or kick the goal.
“I think someone like a Chris Judd needs to mentor someone like Bailey Smith, that’s how highly I rate this guy.
“(But) they are just getting ten per cent of what he’s capable of.”
The Bulldogs midfield of Smith, Treloar, Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Tom Liberatore and Josh Dunkley smashed the Magpies around the ball on Friday night, convincingly winning the clearance count (43-27) and contested possessions (146-106).