Maybe this isn’t the best time to be touting Russ as an NBA candidate, as we’ve mentioned below, he has had his struggles recently. However, Russ Smith is still in the midst of his breakout season and was recently acknowledged as DraftExpress.com’s NBA Draft Prospect of the Week. While he’s as frustrating as ever, we still love him, and it seems like NBA scouts could too.
Showing excellent speed, strong ball-handling skills and terrific aggressiveness, Smith is at his best in the open court, as no prospect in college basketball pushes the ball up the floor more frequently than he does. Generating 9.1 transition plays per-40, Louisville scores 1.37 points every time he does so, which is one of the reasons they’ve improved from being outside the top-100 in offensive efficiency last season to inside the top-15 this season. Not afraid to drive the ball right into the teeth of the defense and take a hit at the rim, Smith has become a much better finisher around the basket this season, a big reason he’s been able to improve his 2-point conversion rate from a paltry 38% to a much more respectable 46%. The real key to his offensive efficiency lies in the way he gets to the free throw line though—8.1 times per-40—which ranks second amongst all NCAA point guard prospects.