Drafting Marcus Smart would be a genius move by Ainge
Marcus Smart is a gamer.
Sure, he has his warts, like any of the highly touted recruits in the upcoming draft. His shooting leaves much to be desired and he can get himself in trouble with his attitude. But make no mistake about it, the guy is a very good basketball player.
Here are some highlights from Saturday's game again Kansas.
That video shows both the good and the bad of Smart's game. He did literally nothing in the first half of the contest, but in the second half he single-handedly beat a team with two top-5 draft picks on it, including a great drive at the consensus overall pick Joel Embiid.
Last year, Smart decided to stay in school for one more season to work on his game and he is showing improvement. His scoring has increased from 15.4 ppg to 17.6 ppg, his field goal percentage on two-pointers has gone up from 46.5 percent to 51.4 percent, but his three-point shooting percentage has barely risen from 29 percent to 29.3 percent. That's his biggest flaw. As amazing as he is offensively, shooting the three at only 29 percent is no bueno.
Even with Smart's deficiencies stroking it from the outside, he'd be great in Boston's back court.
I know that some will scoff at the idea, saying the team already has a back court that can't be counted on to hit many three pointers in Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, but Rondo has started to show an improved outside jumpshot and Bradley too has grown offensively this year, although not quite efficiently. Also, Bradley is a restricted free agent this offseason and if Boston decides to let him walk because Bradley wants too much money or the team trades him, then Smart is a more than acceptable replacement. Plus, Smart turns 20 years old in a couple days so he has plenty of time to work on his stroke.
A Rondo/Smart pairing would wreck havoc on the league. First off, they'd combine for least amount of shits given in league history. Both Rondo and Smart have chips on their shoulders and aren't about to take guff from anyone. It's not often that your guards are your enforcers, but that could easily be the case if Smart ends up a Celtic. There's also a chance Rondo and Smart butt heads, but that should be a minor concern considering the potential the two could bring together with a coach who knows how to handle young guys.
Secondly, right now Smart is a point guard. While Smart's passing isn't exactly lighting the world on fire, he has the experience and instinct to play the position. Coach Brad Stevens has said the best teams he has coached have had multiple point guards on the floor at the same time. A pass-first point guard in Rondo and a score-first point guard in Smart on the floor at the same time would play right into Stevens' system.
An added bonus for Smart is what may be seen as a red flag by other teams. When Smart shoved a fan of an opposing team during a game last month, and was suspended three games for it, the basketball world went into a tizzy talking about how much his stock has dropped and debates ensued about just how far down the first round Smart would actually fall. With performances like Saturday and a strong performance in the NCAA tournament, much of that talk will fade away, but you know the incident will still be in the back of some GMs' minds.
If Boston's first-round pick lands outside the top-5 they could just snag up Smart and continue the rebuild. But, if Boston uses its top pick in a trade for a superstar (Kevin Love anyone?) or drafts a big or a wing that the team also needs, there is another scenario that people aren't talking about.
Regardless of what Boston does with its own top pick,
the team could trade up to snag Smart using Brooklyn's pick
Boston owns either Atlanta's or Brooklyn's first rounder this year, whichever ends up being worse. Right now, it looks like that pick will be Brooklyn's selection at 17 or so. Because this draft is so deep, the Celtics should be able to trade that pick along with a future pick or two to get back into the top-10 this year. Some of the teams that are projected to make selections outside the top-5 but inside the top-10, such as Utah, Sacramento and Denver, are rebuilding themselves and are more than a piece or two away from contending so trading out of the top-10 to draft a player who is projected to be marginally worse at 17 and snagging a future pick would make a ton of sense for them. Also, those three teams don't seem like good fits for Smart anyway so it's not like they would turn down the trade to draft Smart themselves.
Smart had been projected to go in the top-5, but after "The Shove Heard 'Round the World," you know a GM or two is going to pass on Smart and he will fall a couple spots. Had that incident not happened, the odds of the Celtics landing Smart without using their own top pick were quite slim. Boston just so happens to have a GM in Danny Ainge who is a master at scooping up talented guys who fall on draft day (most recent examples being Bradley and Jared Sullinger). Sure, it's usually because of injury that the guys Boston has selected have fallen, but Ainge has shown he's not afraid to gamble when the talent is there. For Smart, the talent is certainly there.