I know what you're thinking right now: Oh no. They did not really just let Grizzly Bear Blues' resident Russ Smith fanatic write his player preview. He's going to go off the rails. It'll be a disaster. Surely they didn't let him do this.*
To that, I only have one thing to say: Yes. Yes. They. Did.
*You probably weren't actually thinking this, but that's why my first rule of journalism is "Don't let the facts get in the way of a great lede."**
**If any of my former journalism professors, mentors or potential employers read this: IT'S JUST A JOKE I SWEAR.
The list of reasons to fall in love with Russ Smith goes on for miles. He is awesome. Here are a few of those reasons why:
He is the Based King
In case you've been living under a rock or are over the age of 30, highly controversial rapper/Twitter philosopher/overall public icon Lil B aka THE BASED GOD has made an impact on the NBA in the last few years in a few hilarious ways, most notably with Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant. The two have had multiple disputes on social media over the years, the most notable of which resulted in Lil B dropping a diss track, appropriately titled "Fuck KD" (VERY VERY NSFW, OBVIOUSLY)
More recently, Lil B was in the news for putting the "Based God Curse" on James Harden. It should be noted that neither Harden nor Durant have won a championship since the curse was placed upon them, and Durant has had to deal with multiple injuries. This is not voodoo. This is science.
So anyway, tying this all back to Russ Smith. Russ is a MASSIVE Lil B fan, and goes so far as to call himself the Based King. He even has the blessings of the Based God himself.
But what does this mean for you, the Grizzlies fan?
It means that your team is indirectly blessed by the Based God. As long as Russ Smith is in a Grizzlies uniform there should be no curse placed on the team (Keep that in mind before you do anything rash, front office). And remember, this is not voodoo. This is science. We are dealing with undeniable truths right now.
He Can Run Like 100 Miles Per Hour
Russ Smith > American Pharoah
He Has a Cat Whose Name is Mr. Quackers
Mr. Quackers even has his own Instagram account!
He Might Actually be Pretty Good for the Grizzlies This Season
Cats and nicknames aside, Russ Smith is actually a professional basketball player, and believe it or not his job is to play basketball professionally. Fortunately for the Grizzlies, the 24-year-old point guard is ripe with potential and should have a much bigger impact than he did a season ago.
Smith appeared in only six games for the Grizzlies since being traded to the team early in the season, and he played only 36 minutes, 15 of which came in that nationally televised game in Washington in which the team rested about half the roster (Smith didn't do particularly great in that game either, finishing with four points, three turnovers and three fouls).
He spent most of his time with Memphis' D-League affiliate, the Iowa Energy, where he averaged 19.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists while appearing in 18 games. Smith performed well in Iowa, but he hasn't really had a legitimate opportunity to contribute in the NBA yet.
That opportunity should be coming in the 2015-16 season. With Nick Calathes heading back to Europe, Smith will be third on Memphis' point guard depth chart, unless perhaps he's outperformed by second round draft pick Andrew Harrison in training camp, although based on Summer League performances of the two I wouldn't expect it. He might not play in every game, but he's going to get minutes. He'll be thrown into action when Mike Conley or Beno Udrih get banged up, and he could even be inserted into certain lineups to speed up the pace since he's a much different type of player from the older Udrih.
In many ways, Smith is unlike other players on the Grizzlies roster. He's young, he's lightning quick, and the team just doesn't have many players that are willing (or able) to attack the basket with the tenacity that Smith does. In addition to his speed benefitting his offense, he's also a pest defensively, and can stay in people's faces and disrupt both ball-handlers and shot attempts despite his 6'1" frame. It's not a certainty that he'll break through and be successful this season, but if he is able to then he adds an entirely different dimension to the team.
He's explosive, he's fun — and most of all — he's based.
(Based) God bless you, Russ Smith.