Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports that Portland Trail Blazers second-year guard Nolan Smith understands that fans are mad that the team drafted him over Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried at the No. 21 spot in the 2011 NBA Draft. Faried went one spot later.
"I don't blame them," Smith said. "I don't blame them at all. Seeing what he's doing, seeing how he plays when he's on the court with his team, it's very easy to say, 'Damn, we could have had him.' But they could have had Michael Jordan, as well. It's part of the draft. They're mad at Greg Oden, too. So you can just add me to the guys they can be mad at."
"This is a business and things in this league happen in time," Smith said. "You have to get to a team where you're in their plans. That's one thing I'm looking forward to this summer in free agency. I'm going to get to a place that wants me, that wants me to be myself and play my game. If you think about it, there's no telling what would have happened with (Faried) if the Blazers drafted him. He might have been playing behind LaMarcus (Aldridge) and maybe his opportunity wouldn't have come. His opportunity in Denver didn't come until Nene got hurt. But Kenneth got an opportunity and Kenneth made the most of his opportunity -- in Denver. So now all the Portland fans can be mad."
Smith, 24, is averaging 2.8 points and 0.9 assists in 7.2 minutes per game this season. His PER of 7.2 ranks No. 411 out of 467 total players in an ESPN.com database.
Faried, 23, is averaging 11.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.0 steals per game this season. His PER of 18.6 ranks in the top-50 league-wide among qualified players.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter