Blazers Smith seeks early start

first_imgTUALATIN, Ore. — Nolan Smith gets to work early. By the time most of his Trail Blazer teammates brew their first cup of coffee, Smith is already inside the practice facility.Coach Terry Stotts has noticed.Smith, whose four professional career starts all came as lead guard, is the first one on the floor. The gym not yet fragranced by sweaty men. The parking lot not yet crowded by luxury sport utility vehicles. And there he is — the point guard designed in a 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame — squaring up for jump shot after shot like he’s Wesley Matthews.October mornings should make for minutes in November and beyond. At least, that’s the purpose for these early-bird workouts. Smith may be a gym resident by nature but now it’s a necessity if he wants to capture the up-for-grabs position of reserve shooting guard.“Nolan has worked really hard,” Stotts said. “He comes in the gym, he’s the first one (here). He gets his shots up an hour-and-a-half before practice. He really wants to improve. He competes, and I think he’s shown progress.”A hole opened up when an Achilles ripped up.During voluntary player workouts, weeks before training camp, shooting guard Elliot Williams tore his left Achilles tendon. The promise of Williams’ third season vanished after he underwent season-ending surgery, and the Blazers were left thin for backup behind the starter, Matthews.last_img

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