Russ Smith closed out his college career averaging 18.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 2.0 steals per game in his final two seasons at Louisville before entering the 2014 NBA Draft with high hopes of being drafted. He even won an NCAA championship with the Cardinals in 2013 playing alongside current Minnesota Timberwolves forward Gorgui Dieng and LA Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell.
Smith was selected 47th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers and ended up on the Memphis Grizzlies, but never really got his chance as guard Beno Udrih played the majority of the games and minutes behind star guard Mike Conley.
Smith ended up leaving the NBA to pursue better opportunities for himself to flourish overseas in China, and boy did he absolutely dominate. According to HoopsHype, no player had ever averaged more than 45 points per game in the Chinese National Basketball League until Smith averaged an absurd 61.2 points per game this past season.
Smith spoke to Dennis Chambers of Basketball Insiders, where he discussed a bit of frustration at not being on an NBA roster as of right now.
“I really think it’s BS that I’m not on an NBA roster, to say the least,” said Smith. “There’s no way that I can look 30 teams in the NBA, in the states, and I can go, ‘All 13 guys on this roster is better than me.’ I can’t believe that.”
Smith added more as to why he believes he’s deserving of an NBA roster spot, taking a jab at some of today’s point guards believing that he’s fully capable of playing better in their position.
“There’s point guards and guards in the league that can’t create shots for others, and they need a ball-screen,” Smith added. “Or that they can’t push the ball, they’re not fast enough. And it sucks because I feel like I’m all of those things, but they’d rather have those guys because they’re easier to manage.”
Likely the biggest issue for Smith is that he’s aiming to play in a time when the NBA is a strong point guard’s league, being absolutely dominated by the likes of Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, John Wall, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, and many more. He should certainly be given another opportunity as a backup for an NBA team, but he’ll have to make the most of his brief opportunities to show franchises that he’s capable of being the guard they’re looking for.