Draft Prospect Profile: Russ Smith
Editor's Note: The Knicks acquired two draft picks in Wednesday's trade with Dallas -- Nos. 34 and 51 in Thursday's Draft. We've been breaking down some potential options, which you can find here. Below is just one of the many promising prospects New York could consider:
Russ Smith PG
23 years old
Freshmen PER: 12.4 | Senior PER: 26.4
18.2 PPG | 46.8 FG% | 4.6 Ast | 38.7 3P%
Smith’s age works against him when teams are drafting for potential, but after four productive years at Louisville, he has real sleeper potential later in the draft. He’s the opposite of fellow upperclassman Spencer Dinwiddie in terms of physical profile, but he’s compensated for lack of size by playing suffocating defense and improving his scoring efficiency each season.
Pound-for-pound, he’s an above-average athlete and it shows on both ends of the floor. The Cardinals’ team defensive rating climbed every year as his playing time increased, improving from 20th in the country his freshman year to 6th as he joined the rotation as a sophomore. Playing 30.3 minutes per game over the next two seasons, he led the 3rd best defensive team to a national championship as a junior and the No. 1 overall ranking this past year. A nightmare for opposing ballhandlers, he was capable of dominating the game on defense like few players at his position.
Offensively, Smith’s success will hinge on his ability to play under control and facilitate. He got into the lane consistently as his role expanded over his career, and his steadily improving true shooting percentage is a positive sign for his future as a scorer against NBA athletes. Likely suited as a change-of-pace backup, at least until be shows that he can run a team at the next level, his exceptional burst and defensive pedigree should help his case to be selected on Thursday.