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Stats: 20.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.5 rpg, 3.2 t/o's, 1.2 spg, 35.0 3PT%
Age: 22, senior
- Listed: 6'2", 185 lb
- Official: 6'1.5" (no shoes), 6'3.5" (with shoes), 6'5.5" (wingspan), 8'3" (reach), 188 lb
Strengths: There isn't much that Nolan Smith doesn't do well on a basketball court. He's got good size for a point guard in the NBA. He's not the best athlete in this draft, but he compensates for it; he has a very high basketball IQ and understands his strengths and limitations. He has a crafty and effective handle, understanding how to use a change of pace and a change of direction to create space. He's able to finish in the paint using a variety of floaters and short jumpers, but can finish at the rim using his body to hold off a defender. Smith is also capable of dunking on an opponent upon occasion. As a shooter, Smith is still a bit inconsistent, but he's gotten better throughout his career. Perhaps the most important aspect of his game is that Smith has shown to be capable of running a team this season, taking over the point guard duties this year for Kyrie Irving this year. He's a better passer and creator that you think, and has improved in the pick and roll.
Weaknesses: Smith is not a prototypical NBA athlete. He's not overly quick, especially on the defensive end of the floor, but he makes up for it but playing hard on that end of the floor and understanding positioning and rotations. He still needs to improve his jump shot as well, but he's gotten consistently better throughout his career. He did turn the ball over more than you would like out of your point guard, but some of that can be attributed to the amount of time he had the ball in his hands. Smith is a very well-rounded, intelligent player, but his biggest weakness may be that he is not great at any one thing.
- Best Case Scenario: Kirk Hinrich is the name that immediately comes to mind. They have similar skill sets and are both very intelligent players, but Hinrich had a couple of seasons where he averaged 16 ppg and 6 apg as a starter in the league. I'm not sure Smith will be able to reach that plateau. Mario Chalmers is another comparison that I've seen that I like, although I think Smith is a more well-rounded offensive player than Chalmers.
- Worst Case Scenario: Anthony Carter. Carter has made a career out of being a serviceable back up point guard. He doesn't do a lot, but he can create, he can knock down a three, and he's willing to fit a role. I can see Smith having a long career similar to that of Carter.
Draft Range: Late 1st round to early 2nd round
And the experts say...
- Chad Ford: "Smith is a combo guard with solid athleticism and a knack for scoring. But for the last year and a half, the senior has gone a long way in shoring up his credentials as a legitimate point guard. He sees the floor better and better as the years have progressed and has shown he can have a big game even when his shot isn't dropping. The biggest term I've heard scouts use to describe him is "steady" and that's a major compliment in their book. Smith doesn't necessarily project as a NBA star (though scouts are hedging more on that than they were a year ago), but a number of teams covet him as a potential rotation player who could cover both backcourt positions coming off the bench."
- Draft Express: "Not a natural playmaker, Smith's ability to run an offense full time could be the key to whether or not he's seen as a legitimate starter down the line. Smith has a high basketball IQ and is a willing passer, and at the very least should be able to competently run an offense for stretches off the bench as a combo guard. The diversity of Smith's offensive game, even if he may not be dominant in any individual area, combined with his willingness and ability to defend the point should create a fairly limited floor and make Smith a reasonable bet to be a contributor at the next level, which will make him especially attractive to playoff teams picking in the second half of the first round."
- Swish Scout: "Dynamic combo guard who stepped up big time at Duke as a senior and became an elite NCAA player can do everything well, but nothing spectacular. Thrives as a compliment to a star player with his shooting, passing and creation skills, but will be questions in the NBA about his potential and size on the perimeter."