Russ Smith is one of most explosive NCAA players to ever put on a Louisville Cardinals uniform, but his skill set does not transfer to the NBA game whatsoever. After a dreadful performance in the National Championship Game, the junior guard thought it would be wise to forgo his senior season and put his name in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Cardinals captivated the nation when their quest to the championship ended with cutting down of the nets, but NBA teams couldn’t care less.
Smith is undersized as a 6-foot-1 shooting guard and will be forced to enter the NBA as a point guard. This is an enormous red flag as the Cardinals have had Peyton Siva patrolling that spot for the last four years with Smith getting no experience at PG. If Smith were to return for one more campaign under head coach Rick Pitino, he would be able to patrol the offense as Siva will not be returning this fall.
The statistics that Smith was able to put up in the tournament were impressive as he averaged 22.3 points per game, which is more than four points higher than his regular season tally. Unfortunately for Smith’s draft stock, the “do it all” guard turned in one of his worst games of the season in the title game and that unpredictability is what earned Smith his nickname of “Russdiculous.”
In the biggest game of his career, the Michigan Wolverines held Smith to 3-16 shooting with the Cardinals guard finishing with a mere nine points. No career is defined by one game, but the ability to rise to the occasion is something that NBA scouts definitely take note of.
Smith has garnered comparisons to players like Nate Robinson of the Chicago Bulls, who can be classified by the Bulls faithful as either “Good Nate” or “Bad Nate” depending on which end of the spectrum he is that night. With a second-round selection in his future, Smith will be lucky to have the kind of career Robinson has had, but the two share an inconsistent style of play.