Russ SmithHt/Wt: 6' 0" / 165 lbs
2014 Draft Profile - Russ SmithStrengths:
Despite his lack of size, Smith is one of the best scorers in this draft class combining his blazing speed with top notch shooting and ball handling. He has proven throughout his four years at Louisville that he can get his shot off against anyone.
He is an absolute terror in transition with an ability to dart in and out of traffic at will and finish over larger defenders due to his excellent body control, and the development of a very useful floater and pull up jumper.
He also improved tremendously as a passer his senior season, upping his assist numbers and generally looking more comfortable in the point guard role, which is one of the bigger concerns about him.
Defensively, there are no questions about Smith. Playing for Rick Pitino, you have no choice but to play defense and Smith became Louisville’s all-time steals leader. He plays with tenacity on that end, and his quickness and length will allow him to bother opposing guards for 94-feet.
Smith improved as a passer, but he is still far from a point guard. His decision making still leaves a lot to be desired as he can get out of control at times and force up some bad shots. He almost seems reckless at times and his shot selection could still use some improvement.
Then there are other times when he seems to lock in on a certain player, forcing him to miss other open teammates in favor of forcing a less favorable pass. He is far more turnover prone than you would like to see.
He is also a 23 year old player, which will give scouts pause about how much he can improve, or if he is what he will be right now. He doesn’t have natural point guard instincts, but his improvement last year will give some people hope that he can make a similar leap, even if most his age don’t.
Smith is a leader and a winner who will sell out to get his team a victory every single night. He can also score as well as any player in this draft class. He is also a shooting guard in a point guard’s body who lacks playmaking instincts. Whichever side wins out will determine how good Smith can be in the NBA.
PPG: 18.2 RPG: 3.3 APG: 4.6 SPG: 2.0 BPG: 0.1 FG%: 46.8 FT%: 70.5 3PT%: 38.7
Player profile submitted by: Corey Hansford – May 8th
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2013 Draft Profile - Russ SmithJunior point guard Russ Smith is something of a polarizing prospect. At only 6ft, with outstanding length for his size, Smith is a blur when he comes off the bench for Rick Pitino. You won't often see a guard with the pure mesmerizing speed that Smith has. One immediately is reminded a bit of Rajon Rondo. Like Rondo, Smith is a defensive attacker. As an on-ball defender, few players in the country are as scary as Smith. On offense, Smith also reminds one of Rondo, because he shot a weak 36% from the field last year. That has improved to the low forties this season, however, and Smith is clearly working on his mechanics.
He is not, probably, what one would call an elite distributor. In that sense, he also brings to mind Ty Lawson. Smith is happy as a default setting, to take it to the basket. Altogether, his attitude is always one of attack -- at both ends of the court. However, few players can change the character of a game the way Smith can when he comes off the bench. Smith has a jet like first step, and can blow past weaker defenders with ease, but often is too aggressive against better competition.
How that projects to his future in the NBA is something worth pondering. He gets to the line quite a bit, though, and shoots a respectable 78%. Smith has improved each year, has obviously listened to the tutoring of Pitino, and to my mind, looks to be a very tantalizing prospect based just on his superior defensive skills. He anticipates passes, can reach around and disrupt dribbles, and always seems to be racing to where the ball is. He led the NCAA in steals last year. In transition, nobody gets down the floor faster.
The only negatives are that he is often a bit out of control, and isn't an elite shooter. He finishes ok, but again, not as well as he should. But if you want defense ....Smith is the guy. Half court offenses, like San Antonio are not going to be ideal settings for Smith, but teams such as Denver or Charlotte....anywhere the idea is to run, that's Smith territory.
Player profile submitted by: John Steppling - Jan. 8th 2012
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