Portland Trail Blazers Management Has High Praises for Duke's Nolan Smith

Ro ShiellAnalyst IJuly 7, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Nolan Smith #2 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Getting drafted is just one of many hurdles Nolan Smith needs to overcome in order to become an established NBA player, just like his father.

If the average NBA career is three-and-a-half years long, getting drafted 21st by the Blazers will give Smith at least three years pay, but there is no guarantee of playing time unless the team finds him more valuable as a trade piece.

Teams always find time to show off players they wish to trade as it makes them more valuable or send them to the D-League.

The Blazers just traded for Raymond Felton, a former North Carolina guard, and he is the projected starter at point guard and Smith is slated as his backup.

"I look at myself as a player." says Smith, "If you give me the ball I'll be able to run a team. If you want me to go out there and score I can do that as well."

Smith has been given the dreaded label as a "combo guard," but rather than trying to shake it he should embrace it. Jason Terry has made a decent career without leaning towards being a point guard or shooting guard. So has Gilbert Arenas.

Should Smith wish to play off guard, Brandon Roy’s starting position, Smith will have stiff competition in second-year player and Duke transfer, Elliot Williams, and established veteran, Wesley Mathews, who played at Marquette.

Fellow rookie Jon Diebler shot 50 percent on three-pointers for Ohio State and is probably the best shooter on the team. At 6’6” brings a lot more size than Smith who is three inches shorter.

Currently the NBA is in shutdown mode and if the lockout goes on for the entire season Smith will lose a whole season’s pay and be left with just two years to prove himself.

Being drafted 21st means Smith is expected to make just over $1 million in the first season and a total of $3.5 million in three years.

Cheap compared to Nate Robinson, who will be making $4.5 million next season playing behind Russell Westbrook and Eric Maynor on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Here is what Smith's new boss, acting GM Chad Buchanan had to say about him:

"We feel [Nolan is] one of the classiest kids in the draft. Obviously a very tremendous talent as well. [He] has won at every level. Won 40 games at Oak Hill Academy.

“Won a national championship at Duke. One of the top players in the country this year. Another guy who showed improvement every year—which we're big on.

"We like to see guys who get better every year,shows us they are willing to work on their game. Nolan, being a first-class kid, he fits our culture as well. Nolan has his family out here with him."

Smith has shown a capacity to learn on the fly but unlike his tenure at Duke he will have to prove himself fairly quickly for Portland.