Feb 5, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Russ Smith (2) brings the ball up the court during the first half against the Houston Cougars at Hofheinz Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Who is Russ Smith? A Look at the Newest Member of the New Orleans Pelicans

After weeks of talk about trying to acquire a first round pick to draft a small forward the Pelicans traded in the second round to acquire point guard Russ Smith. Pelican Debrief did a ton of NBA Draft scouting reports but none of them were Smith so here is a quick rundown of just who he is as a player.

The Basics: 

Age: 23

College: Louisville

Height: 6′ 0”

Weight: 160

Wingspan: 6’3.5”

2013-2014 Stats: 37 games, 29.3 mpg, 18.2 ppg, 46.8 FG%, 38.7 3PT%, 70.5 FT%, 3.3 rpg, 4.6 apg, 2.0 spg

Strengths: 

Smith’s biggest strength is his motor. He will play hard each and every minute that he steps on the floor and it really shows on the defensive end of the floor. Smith is a bulldog and his 6’3” wingspan makes his 6’0” frame not as big of a problem as it looks on first glance. Smith also uses elite quickness and that mentality to make life miserable for opposing ball handlers. Smith isn’t just an on-ball pest though. He uses that quickness, length and motor just as well off-ball where he fights through screens and works himself into passing lanes to pick up extra possessions for his team.

Offensively Smith will shoot the ball often and if he is taking good shots probably make them at a decent clip. Despite his small frame Smith isn’t afraid to attack the paint. In the NBA things will be a bit tougher on him doing that but he should at least be able to adjust and make his attacks turn into points for himself or others. At the very least the Pelicans have another player that should be able to score from the perimeter off the bench which will be especially important if the team finds a way to unload Eric Gordon.

Weaknesses: 

Obviously Smith’s frame is his biggest weakness. He is always going to be undersized and there isn’t a way to change that.  He does the best he can to make up for it but at a certain point there are going to be places that it is a problem.

Outside of that Smith struggles with decision-making at times. He takes bad shots, struggles as a passer and makes bad passes but all of those things are fixable. On a team with so many established players it seems likely that  some of the bad shots will be toned down.

The out-of-control nature of Smith is what makes him so tough to predict. If he is able to harness his gifts he should be a quality contributor for 15 or some minutes a night for a years to come because of his defensive talents and shooting. If not he becomes almost a Nate Robinson like player, someone who could play heavy minutes one night and almost none the next depending on if his shot is falling.

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