Russ Smith averaged 61.2 points per game in the Chinese National Basketball League last season. Prior to Smith’s dominant campaign, no NBL player had averaged over 45 ppg.
Smith, the No. 47 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and a former NCAA national champion, has played for the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans. After playing out of his mind in the NBL, Smith has joined the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Association for this upcoming season.
Earlier this summer, though, Smith said he “for damn sure” belongs in the NBA. Smith continued to display this confidence when he recently spoke with Dennis Chambers about his thoughts on not currently being signed to a roster in the United States (via Basketball Insiders):
“I really think it’s BS that I’m not on an NBA roster, to say the least. 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.”
He also has experience in the NBA’s developmental league, most recently for the Delaware 87ers.
Brandon D. Williams, who oversaw the 87ers team for the Philadelphia 76ers when Smith was on their roster, is now the assistant GM for the Sacramento Kings. His new gig will focus more on the contract negotiations and trades.
Smith participated in the G League Elite Mini-Camp earlier this offseason, working out in front of NBA team personnel.
Last offseason, he worked out for the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers before ultimately signing in China. He eventually played for the Blazers in the NBA Summer League.
While it’s unclear if his dominance abroad will lead him back to the NBA, it’s clearly Smith’s eventual goal. The CBA season wraps up in February, so Smith could join an NBA team whenever Fujian’s campaign comes to an end.
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