Does Marcus Smart Fit in Boston?
Marcus Smart hasn't been the most talked about prospect in this year's draft, but the Oklahoma State product does deserve a lot of the same talk he received earlier this year for his outstanding play with the Cowboys.
Smart decided to leave Stillwater and declare for the NBA Draft after his sophomore season. During his second season with the Cowboys, Smart had some troubles. At the end of a play, he found himself in the stands, where he pushed a Texas Tech fan for something said fan evidently said. However, Smart took his three-game suspension as a learning experience and returned to help his team in a big way. In fact, he went on to lead the Cowboys to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The 6'4", 220-pound point guard put up some big numbers even with the off-the-court character issues. He improved upon his 2012-2013 campaign in just about every statistical category. In his sophomore season, Smart averaged 18 points and just under 5 assists and 6 boards - all up from his freshmen season. He also cut down his turnovers from 3.4 in 2012-2013 to 2.6 in 2013-14.
Those are some good numbers, but how good, or bad, are the numbers when we go next level? In short, they're pretty good. Yes, Smart shot under 30% from three in both of his seasons with the Cowboys, but his field goal percentage was still over 40% each year. What's that say? That says Smart can take it hard to the hole with the best of them. In his sophomore campaign, Smart shot 51% from inside the three-point arc and averaged just over eight free throw attempts per game.
But Smart isn't just a one-trick pony. He also thrives on the defensive end, as evidenced by his 99 career steals. In fact, Smart posted a steal percentage of 5%, as his opposing guards shot an abysmal 27% from the floor against him.
In his short career, Smart was an all-around defender at the guard position. He posted defensive ratings of 86.1 and 92.3 in his freshmen and sophomore years respectively. His outstanding defensive prowess led him to defensive win share totals of 3.0 and 2.5 in those two years as well. These type of dominant numbers lead us basketball minds to believe that he could be a lockdown defender at the next level.
Now A Celtic
The C's took Smart with the sixth overall pick in last night's draft. The first reaction I had to the pick was "what about Rondo?", but after some thought, Smart is a good, solid pick at number six. He's everything Avery Bradley is on the defensive end and more.
If and when he steps in for Bradley, Smart will prove himself a great improvement. Though Bradely is heralded for his defense, he only tallied a 1.7% steal percentage in 2013-2014 - much lower than Smart's while at Oklahoma State last year. And Smart's PER of 26.9 is more than double that of Bradley's from this past season (12.7). It looks as though Smart and Rondo could be a very efficient duo for the C's, diving into the lane, kicking it to shooters and getting to the free throw line. However, with the Celtics in the hunt for a certain superstar, it's hard to say what this pick even holds for Rondo let alone the rest of the team.
This pick could definitely impact the Boston roster in a big way. This could mean that Rondo is on his way out in favor of Kevin Love, like many rumors suggest, or it could mean the Celtics may make a move for another star. But one thing's for certain: Coach Brad Stevens is getting a quick learner, a hard-nosed player and a great defender in Marcus Smart.