Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Nolan Smith


Everyone knows and wants Kyrie Irving, but his backcourt mate at Duke, Nolan Smith, also looks like he’ll become a pretty good NBA player. You have to like this co-sign from NBA star Kevin Durant:

"Good to see my brother @NdotSmitty and his family…we go all the way back to 10 years old!"

Anyone who is cool with Durant is cool with me.


Measurables: 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, senior guard from Duke

Key stats: 20.6 points, 5.1 assists, 1.2 steals per game while shooting 46 percent from the field and 35 percent from three

Projected: First round

How would he help the Pistons?

The thing I love most about Smith’s game is that he would bring the perimeter toughness back to the Pistons defense that has sorely been lacking. He’s not the shooter Irving is and he’s not as explosive, but Smith has improved each year at Duke, and the mentality he plays with reminds me a lot of fellow Dukie Shane Battier. Smith is an intelligent defender, he’s a solid shooter who will be able to occasionally create his own shot and he’s really strong. He might be more backup than starter because I’m not entirely sure what position he’s better suited for as a pro, but he will be able to play minutes at both spots and Joe Dumars has never been scared of taking a combo guard, particularly one as good defensively as Smith could be.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

The Pistons are likely going to think big in the draft considering their logjam of guards isn’t going to clear up soon. Smith would be an intriguing prospect in the unlikely event he dips to the early second round, but with last year’s second round pick, Terrico White, and intriguing prospect in his own right, it’s doubtful the Pistons would pick up another young guard who would have to fight for only a few minutes a game, if that.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

"Despite not having a tremendous first step, Smith does a good job of getting into the lane at the collegiate level. He has the ability to go either left or right in isolation sets, and does a good job of using hesitation and a change of direction to create space, showing great craftiness with the ball. Smith’s likely an average athlete by NBA standards, limitations that show up a bit when finishing at the rim. He compensates by using his off hand well to shield defenders and showing good body control, with the ability to hit runners and floaters with some regularity. He has also done a better job of drawing contact and getting to the line than in years past, generally becoming a more effective scorer inside the arc this season."

From ESPN:

"Smith is a combo guard with solid athleticism and a knack for scoring. But for the last year and a half, the senior has gone a long way in shoring up his credentials as a legitimate point guard. He sees the floor better and better as the years have progressed and has shown he can have a big game even when his shot isn’t dropping (see Sunday’s outing against Maryland, when he had eight assists and seven boards). The biggest term I’ve heard scouts use to describe him is “steady” and that’s a major compliment in their book."

From NBA

"At 6’3, he has nice size and length for a point guard, and has enough overall awareness and skill to play off the ball as well … With the ball in his hands, Smith’s high basketball IQ and excellent ball security allow him to efficiently run an offense … He shows nice touch in the lane when attacking the rim, with a good feel for when to float it/take it strong and when to dish it out to the open man … He’s a capable outside shooter, but generally shoots his best when someone creates open opportunities for him … Smith’s awareness allows him to read defenses and make the right pass in a timely fashion, and despite not being a pure point guard, he’s trusted at the position with his excellent decision making and offensive efficiency … Defensively his best attributes revolve around his length, IQ and effort."

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