2014 NBA Draft — Marcus Smart
SCHOOL: Oklahoma State Cowboys
HEIGHT: 6-Feet, 3-Inches
WEIGHT: 227 LBS
NBA PLAYER COMPARISON: Russell Westbrook/Dwyane Wade
The game of basketball has evolved and players have changed right along with it, no longer fitting into classic definitions for specific positions. Marcus Smart is a great example of that, combining great talent and athletic ability that surpass his body’s limits. He has the kind of explosive ability that can definitely be a factor in today’s NBA.
But how can he maximize that incredible athleticism? NBA scouts project him at the point guard position (mostly due to his size) and he did average nearly 5 assists per game during his sophomore year at OSU. The reality is that Smart likes to have the ball in his hands and is a better scorer than initiator on offense. While he only shot 42% (including a woeful 29% from 3-point range), he can run the pick-and-roll effectively (an NBA staple) but his ability to finish at the rim will be his best asset as a professional. Despite his relatively-short height, he absorbs contact well and finds a way to make the shot and/or draw the foul, where he shouts around 73% at the line. If he can avoid more-experienced NBA shot-blockers, more games likes this will be in his future:
So he’s got the talent on the offensive end; no doubts there. Does he have the complete game? His shooting needs more work but he does a fair job of limiting turnovers despite being the focal point for OSU’s offense. He’s also a good rebounder, and he’s willing to mix it up against taller players (that could lead to foul trouble in the NBA). His athleticism can be used tenaciously on defense, where he’s a good on-ball defender and can play the passing lanes well. He’s raw but can be molded into a great player, perhaps even an All-Star.
But there’s the rub…is Smart willing or capable of being molded? Questions about his maturity or inability to control his emotions have surrounded him since his youth. Perhaps his most famous highlight is one Smart would likely like to forget, an incident with a fan that led to a 3-game suspension:
He has a reputation for flopping (maybe he will fit right in) and reports have already surfaced that Smart’s representatives have refused to work out for the Utah Jazz, who have the 5th pick in the upcoming draft. Rumors suggest that Smart’s agents believe he’s a top-4 talent and want him drafted accordingly; other theories suggest that he’d prefer playing for the Celtics (6th) or Lakers (7th) as a larger-market team. Whatever the case, it seems that this is a player with plenty of talent but might be focused on issues outside of his play. Whichever team takes a chance on him must have a structure in place, or Smart can be making headlines for all the wrong reasons and not for displaying this kind of athleticism: