NBA Draft 2011: Was Nolan Smith the Right Pick for the Portland Trail Blazers?

Joshua GraberContributor IIJune 28, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: Was Nolan Smith the Right Pick for the Portland Trail Blazers?

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    ...and with the 21st pick in the 2011 NBA draft, the Portland Trail Blazers select...Nolan Smith, from Duke University.

    Since commissioner David Stern announced that the Duke guard was headed to Portland, it has been the subject of talk among Blazers fans as to whether he was the best choice for Portland to take with the 21st selection in this year's NBA draft.

    So let's lay it all out on the table: Here are some "for and against" reasons why Nolan Smith is the right guy for the Trail Blazers or not.

For: High Character

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    Ever since the Jail Blazers era (Bonzi Wells, pictured), Portland has put great value in acquiring people with strong work ethic and high character.

    Gone are the days that you will find Blazers players on the 10 o'clock news with the words “nightclub,” “drugs,” “guns” or “dog fighting” attached to their names. The Trail Blazers have turned over a new leaf and now bring in solid citizens to outwork and outplay their opponents on the basketball court.

    Nolan Smith is no exception. Scouts have said that the Duke guard is “high character,” “unselfish” and “cerebral” in most of their reports.

    With the Blazers looking for talent, skill and an overall good guy to fill a roster spot, Smith fits the bill.

Against: A Reach at 21

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    Nolan Smith was projected by most to be a second-round selection, which is why it surprised many that the Blazers drafted him with pick No. 21.

    Could Portland have traded down and still got him in the late first round to early second round? Yes. Was it an efficient move at that draft position to take the Duke guard? You tell me. 

    Not to take anything away from Smith, but if he was their man (and obviously he was), they could have just as easily landed him later down the road by making a quick swap with one of Portland's deep-bench players.

    That way, they still could have retained their 21st selection for a player such as Kenneth Faried (pictured), who may have had a more immediate as well as long-term impact on the team.

For: Solid Rebounder and Passer for a Combo Guard

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    At 6'2" and 185 pounds, Nolan Smith surprisingly is a solid rebounder.

    Averaging 4.5 boards per game in his senior year at Duke University, Smith has shown that perhaps he has what it takes to be a “tough-skinned” guard that doesn't shy away from bumping and grinding with other players.

    The Blazers seem to like scrappers, and perhaps Smith could fill this role on Portland's roster.

    Another upside to Smith is his ability to rack up assists at the college level despite showing more tendencies toward being a combo guard rather than a pure point guard.

    His 5.1 assists per game this last season shows that he can dish the rock and score at the same time. Could he be a poor man's Jason Kidd (pictured)?

Against: Combo Guard Tendencies

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    Most experts, including myself, felt as though the Trail Blazers should look to fill the need at point guard, center and perhaps a backup power forward before looking to add another role player to their roster.

    Drafting Nolan Smith gives the Blazers a combo guard who likes to put the ball in the basket—not necessarily a bad thing but definitely not the highest priority in this year's draft for the Blazers.

    Perhaps Portland plans to mold Smith into a pure point, which is fine and dandy, if it works.

    The last time they tried this was with combo guard Jerryd Bayless (pictured), which never worked out and ended with Bayless being traded away.

Conclusion: What Do YOU Think?

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    What do you think? You, the fans, be the expert analysts and critique the Blazers' selection.

    Drop me a comment and let me know if you feel Nolan Smith was a good choice at pick No. 21 or if the Blazers should have landed someone else; and if so, whom?

    For more 2011 NBA draft coverage, stay tuned to Bleacher Report for NBA draft results and NBA draft grades.