Pick 21: The internet rumour mill is again doing its thing, speculating about a possible Blazers trade with Denver of Andre Miller for Raymond Felton. It is initially said that the two will swap first round draft picks as a part of the deal, and this is the prevalent rumour when Portland drafted Nolan Smith at #21. Ultimately, however, the draft picks were not included in the trade.
It is not out of the realms of possibility that the initial agreement was to swap picks with Denver, and that Portland drafted Smith for the Nuggets with this in mind. This might have to suffice as an explanation, because if that wasn't the case, then the reasons for taking Nolan are unclear. I say that as a fan of Smith's, having championed him as a late first round as recently as two weeks ago. Yet #21 is a little high for him, especially with Jordan Hamilton and Kenneth Faried still on the board, both of whom are likely to be more productive than Smith, with higher upside. Furthermore, Smith also plays a position of no need for Portland, who already boast a excess of guards in Felton, Armon Johnson, Patty Mills, Brandon Roy, Wesley Matthews, and the forgotten man Elliot Williams. A guard spot is cleared when it is discovered that Rudy Fernandez goes to Dallas as a part of the trade [more on this later], yet there is still no clearcut need nor reason for choosing Smith in that spot.
That said, it's not too bad of a reach. Picks 20 through 40 are about equal in this draft. They're likely all backups.
If Dick Vitale was here, he'd be being forcefully restrained as this moment, so overwhelmed with glee would he be. You see, Nolan Smith stayed in school for four years, where he had fun and learned the game. It is only possible to have fun and learn the game by staying in school. Everyone knows that things are only fun to do when you do them for free, having others profit greatly off of your abilities while you see none of the monetary rewards. And of course, the only way to truly learn the game is to play considerably less of it, while having to divide your time with a completely unnecessary degree that you won't ever need that serves only to take away time that could be spent learning the game. College basketball, truly, is the only way to learn. No one ever learns outside of college. (Unless you're Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely, or any other non-collegiate player picked tonight. Or any of the thousands of players to have improved markedly once they joined the NBA. But they just got lucky.)
Stu's trivia sheet again comes through in the clutch, revealing that Nolan Smith has a tattoo of his father's face on his arm. Which is weird.