Nolan Smith is perfecting the art of the lob pass.
by Chris Haynes / @ChrisBHaynes
The Portland Trail Blazers led the NBA in converting alley-oops with 156. That’s no fluke, as coach Nate McMillan draws them up constantly because he has one of the best finishers on the League in LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Blazers first round pick, Nolan Smith, knows that, and has been working tirelessly on perfecting his lob passes.
“It’s a skill to it,” Smith told SLAMonline. “You just can’t just throw it up there to a 6-10 guy and expect him to convert it. It has to be the right touch with the right amount of air under it.”
Smith is aware of whom the center piece of the team is and he’s prepping himself for a potential Smith-to-Aldridge connection. The rookie out of Duke has done his homework and is expecting to make an immediate impact year one.
“I’ve been practicing throwing full-court lobs and half-court lobs,” Smith said. “When I’m in the game, I don’t want the offense to miss a beat.”
Raymond Felton will be the starting point guard whenever the NBA season resumes and Smith can’t wait to work with him, even though Felton is a former Tar Heel.
“Raymond told me since we’re from two different eras, he won’t hold it against me,” Smith said, laughing. “He’s a premier guard in the league and it’s going to really benefit me to go up against him in practice.”
While at Duke, Smith did the bulk of his work off the ball, but when the No.1 pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, Kyrie Irving went down with a toe injury, Smith showed that he was capable of playing with the ball and creating not just for himself, but for others too.
“I feel like I can play both guard positions,” Smith said. “I’ve shown my ability to put the ball in the hoop and I’ve shown that I can run a team. Whatever the team needs, I’m there.”
As for playing overseas during this current lockout, Smith’s not thinking too much about that decision, as he thinks the NBA season can still be saved.
“I talked with my agent about it a couple of days ago,” Smith said. “We’ll talk about that scenario if things take a turn for the worst, but that’s something I’m not thinking about right now.
What Smith is thinking about right now is doughnuts. Yes, doughnuts.
He’s heard a lot about Voodoo Doughnuts, located in Portland, where the slogan is “The magic is in the hole.” Nonetheless, Smith said he can’t wait to get to town and give it a try.
“I’m a huge doughnut guy and I’m definitely going over there when I touch down,” Smith said. “I want to see what all the fuss is about.”