There were many positives to take away from the Hawks’ 121-115 victory over the Rockets, but one thing that stood out was Dennis Schroder’s absence from the rotation. He did not play last evening, though he did not appear to be nursing any type of ailment. Was it rest? An internal punishment from Coach Bud? We do not have the answers currently, but one thing is for sure: Shelvin Mack did not look pretty in an expanded role.
Let’s be honest, Mack is what he is. He’s a third point guard on a cheap contract who knows the system. However, one of my favorite college hoops players hit the market yesterday when the Grizzlies waived Russ Smith.
Smith does not have much of a track record in the NBA, and has struggled to break his way into a rotation. However, his leadership and ability led to him endless success under the tutelage of Rick Pitino at Louisville.
For me, Smith simply passes the eye test. He was a great college player that displayed a great basketball IQ. He’s a little undersized, but I think if Coach Bud gets him familiar with the system, he could shine given his skillset. He has a build similar to Jeff Teague’s coming out of college, and like Teague, having him put on some more weight could really help him make the transition to the NBA.
Smith was a better offensive player and defensive player than Mack in college, and did it against the best talent in the NCAA his Senior season when Louisville realigned to the ACC. The 24-year old simply needs the right opportunity to shine in the NBA. The Hawks have actually had more success with second round picks than first round picks in recent years, and Smith could be another solid bench contributor for the team.
It would be interesting to see if the Celtics would give up a second rounder to allow Mack to play under his college coach, Brad Stevens.
At the end of the day, I think Smith has more talent than Mack despite his struggles while getting his feet wet in the NBA. The Hawks should give him a shot.