Better Know a Draft Prospect: Nolan Smith


Name: Nolan Smith

Position: PG/SG

Measurables: 6’2” 185 lbs

College: Duke

Nolan Smith has the unique advantage of being one of the few (possibly the only) players we’ll preview that I saw in person. I saw him play at the final Maryland’s home game in 2010, back when Greivis Vasquez and Jon Scheyer were dueling over ACC player of the year, with the winner of this game probably getting the award. Even though Duke had Scheyer and Kyle Singer (another current draft prospect) Nolan Smith was the player who scared me the most as a Maryland fan. He was a threat on offense every time he touched the ball, attacking the basket and hitting open looks. I called it right then “Nolan Smith is going to win ACC player of the year next year”.

My prediction came true as Nolan Smith did win the ACC player of the year award this year. True, his opportunity to win the award came as a result of Kyrie Irving’s injury, a player who looked like an absolute lock to win every accolade imaginable, but his play to keep Duke atop the ACC after they lost a key player is nothing to scoff at. Successfully running the point while Irving was injured was probably the best thing Smith did for his draft stock. He was projected to enter the NBA as a combo guard (it’s the position he played when I saw him person) so adding some diversity to his game is huge.

The best part about Smith’s game is his scoring ability. He averaged 21.3 PPG, good for 14th in the country. Smith also is very good at getting to the basket, something that can be attributed to his 6’5″ wingspan. He’s a good shooter too, though he has shot less than 40 percent from behind the arch all four years at Duke. His also has a very strong basketball IQ, regularly making good decisions with the ball.

The biggest thing going against Smith is his athleticism. He doesn’t have the explosiveness or the first step to beat NBA defenders off the dribble. He also is short for a two guard, his natural position, at 6’3″. It also seems as though Smith has reached his ceiling as a player. He took a big leap forward in terms of development this year, but he lacks the athleticism to make you believe he’s going to take another leap forward.

Smith would fit onto the Nets the same way Josh Selby would. They both provide depth at the guard position, and offer starting possibilities down the road. However, if both Smith and Selby are on the board at 27, I’d have to go with Selby. I think his upside is greater than Smith’s, and at the 27th pick you’re not taking a huge gamble. Selby has the potential to be a starter in this league, something I don’t see in Smith.

Nolan Smith