Russ Smith accomplished his fair share of success in his four years at Louisville, and the First-Team All-American has the hardware to show for it. Now, he'll be looking to start a new run of success in the pros, after the 76ers selected him with the No. 47 pick in Thursday’s 2014 NBA draft.
According to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Smith has been traded to the New Orleans Pelicans:
Sixers will trade Russ Smith to New Orleans for rights to Pierre Jackson, sources say.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 27, 2014
The Pelicans made things official on Friday:
The former Cardinal averaged 18.2 points, 4.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals a night in his final collegiate season behind 46.8 percent shooting from the field and 38.7 percent shooting from behind the three-point line.
Stuffing the stat sheet is a sure way to be noticed as a draft prospect, and it will also help him make an impact right away in the NBA. If he can take advantage of what may be limited playing time in the early going with some points, assists and solid defense like we saw in college, he will find his way into the rotation quickly.
His performance at the NBA combine, when draft stocks are certainly on the line, was a mixture of good and bad. His size was an issue, but the low body-fat numbers were encouraging considering his game is based on athleticism and speed.
Jeff Goodman of ESPN and azcentral.com's Paul Coro and Doug Haller shared the details:
Surprised that Russ Smith only got a 34-inch max vertical. Shabazz Napier's was 37.5.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 16, 2014
NBA draft combine body fat percentage high/low. High: Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross, 16.3%. Low: Louisville's Russ Smith, 3.5%.— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) May 16, 2014
Just three sub-6-foot guards at the combine: Jahii Carson (5-9), Louisville's Russ Smith (5-11) and UConn's Shabazz Napier (5-11).— Doug Haller (@DougHaller) May 15, 2014
There are some concerns about his height and his shot selection, and a Western Conference executive discussed Smith’s draft stock, via Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated: “He’s a very good college player. But when I watch him, I don’t see a guy who makes his teammates better. It’s all about him getting shots and scoring.”
However, Smith averaged 24.8 points and 6.3 assists per 40 minutes as a senior, according to sports-reference.com, which may help answer some of the questions about his willingness to share the ball.
Ultimately, Smith could find himself playing those types of minutes in the NBA if he reaches his ceiling, so that type of production is encouraging.
Smith has the athleticism and explosiveness required to be an effective scorer at the in the NBA, something he emphatically put on display more and more during his time at Louisville.
That type of speed is also a big reason why he is a sound defender, which should be one of his biggest strengths as a rookie.
A First-Team AP All-American and a finalist for National Player of the Year in his final collegiate season, Smith was also a critical component in the Cardinals’ national title run in the 2012-13 campaign. He has experience playing in big games, and that should help him make a smooth transition to the bright lights of the Association.
Smith certainly isn’t lacking for confidence, so it will be interesting to watch how he blends with the rest of New Orleans as a rookie. If nothing else, he can serve as a spark plug off the bench who can provide an immediate scoring punch for the Pelicans and serve as a reliable defender.