After averaging 16 points, 5.0 rebounds and a Samsung NBA Summer League high 6.4 assists per game in the New Orleans Pelicans five game stint in Las Vegas over the past 10 days, rookie Russ Smith has been named to the Samsung All-NBA Summer League Second Team.
Joining Smith on the second team are fellow rookies Jordan McRae of the Philadelphia 76ers and T.J. Warren of the Phoenix Suns and second year players Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz and Tim Hardaway Jr. of the New York Knicks.
The first team was made up of mostly second year players and includes MVP Glen Rice Jr. of the Washington Wizards, Rice’s teammate Otto Porter, Chicago Bull’s wing Tony Snell, Houston Rockets big man Donatas Montiejunas and Snell’s teammate and the only rookie Doug McDermott.
For Smith the honor was the final reward on a week of good work as he did whatever the Pelicans needed from him, at times changing what that was on a half-to-half basis. In the Pelicans opening contest against the D-League Select Squad, Smith scored 10 of his 20 points in the second half of the game and also contributed nine rebounds and five assists to lead the comeback in an 83-81 victory. After struggling to a 3-11 shooting game in the team’s second contest against the Lakers, Smith bounced back and had perhaps his best game of the week against the San Antonio Spurs, pouring in 14 points to go along with 10 assists and five rebounds in a 88-86 loss. Smith finished his time in Vegas with his best scoring performance by using an array of floaters to finish with 21 points on 9-18 shooting in a consolation game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The performance may have catapulted Smith even closer to the backup point guard position after the Pelicans traded Pierre Jackson to the 76ers to acquire Smith and then let Brian Roberts walk to the Charlotte Hornets in free agency. Now it seems like a training camp battle and early season play could decide whether Smith or Austin Rivers is the backup to Jrue Holiday for the 2014-2015 season.