Ever since the start of the 2013 season, I’ve been an avid NBA Draft nut. There’s something about the hope the NBA Draft brings that is so wonderful, especially when your team has a high pick. So when the 2014 NBA Draft rolled around, I was ecstatic when I heard people calling it the best draft class since 2003. One of the top players in the class from the start was Oklahoma State sophomore guard Marcus Smart.
After forgoing the 2013 NBA Draft, where Smart was believed by some to be the best player on the board, Smart started the preseason as high as #3 on the big board, only trailing phenom freshman Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. His impressive play was garnering comparisons to that of NBA legend Dwyane Wade, and when he dropped 39 points and 5 steals against #11 ranked Memphis, he solidified his status as a top pick for the draft that summer.
I’m not telling you to not LOVE the way Marcus Smart plays. Last year in the playoffs when Brad Stevens put Marcus Smart on Paul Millsap, who was dominating Celtics big men, and Marcus Smart shut down the All-Star power forward, I called it one of the best moments of my life. Smart’s versatility defensively is otherworldly, but we should want more.
When the Celtics took Marcus Smart #6 overall in 2014, I thought Gary Payton, I thought all-star, I thought building block. So far, Marcus Smart is not a building block. When I look at Marcus Smart now, I see Tony Allen. One of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA, with a limited game outside of that. Tony Allen is great, but Tony Allen wasn’t the #6 pick, and we should all want more from a player that flashed the potential Marcus Smart did in college.
Last season, Marcus Smart finished 13th among guards in All-Defensive Team voting. For a player coming off the bench, that’s no small feat. On the other end of the spectrum, Smart averaged a stat line of 9.1 PTS, 3 AST, 1.5 STL, on a shade under 35% from the field. Those numbers are slightly underwhelming, never mind the shooting which is atrocious. That iffy play has led some Celtics fans to already question whether Smart is better than 2nd year guard Terry Rozier. Ringer writer Kevin O’Connor tweeting in response to a Celtics fan asking about Rozier stealing minutes from Smart:
At the end of the day, there’s just not that much pressure on Smart to perform on the current roster. On a team with Al Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart isn’t going to be asked to due more than necessary. The Celtics are a great team, with or without a breakout season from Marcus Smart.
The reason this is important now is because this is Marcus Smart’s 3rd year. The 3rd year is the year a player should show you what kind of career he’s going to have in the NBA. So here it is:
I am expecting Marcus Smart to steal Avery Bradley’s spot in the starting lineup this season AND make AT LEAST 2nd Team All-Defense.
It’s judgement day, Marcus Smart. Who are you gonna be?