Marcus Smart declares for the draft, could be picked by Boston
Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart has decided to enter the 2014 NBA draft.
This doesn't come as a huge surprise, as Smart could have been the top pick in last year's draft, but decided to come back one more year to work on his game. I've already laid out why I think it would be pretty sweet if Celtics GM Danny Ainge drafted Smart. By the looks of the latest mocks, Smart's stock is dipping a little so the idea of the Celtics possibly trading up a couple spots with their second first rounder from Brooklyn to snag him seems all the more plausible.
His ability to get into the paint and create (or simulate) contact should ensure regular trips to the free throw line. And Smart should be one of the league's top thieves from day one. He's also an excellent rebounder, which has been a positive indicator for point guards. Lastly, Smart is young for his class. In fact, he's 10 days younger than freshman Joel Embiid.
From Amin Elhassan:
He's an awful perimeter shooter, from 2- or 3-point range, but that doesn't deter him from pulling up for them. He doesn't have the greatest quickness or explosion in his first step; he tries to muscle his way past defenders.
His inexperience as a point guard shows in pick-and-roll, where he often puts his head down and tries to bully his way to the rim, then make the pass when other options have exhausted themselves. Passes will overwhelmingly be in his direct line of vision.
From Chad Ford:
His draft ceiling will ultimately depend on how much he improves his jump shot and playmaking skills. He's such a hard worker and so dedicated to the game that most NBA scouts believe he's going to fix these deficiencies with time. Expect him to go somewhere between No. 6 and 10 on draft night.
Everyone seems up and down on Smart. Some love his strength and leadership, while others declare his jumpshot broken and say he's not a "true" point guard. The guy is immensely talented and the team that does grab him will be very pleased for years to come.
As for Boston, the only major concern Ainge should have with Smart is his attitude and how it would mesh with the roster. Sure, Rajon Rondo and Smart could form a very potent backcourt in coach Brad Stevens' system. It would even take the pressure off of Smart to have to learn the point guard position in the NBA and would let him do what he does best, score. Since Rondo isn't the most emotional guy, Smart could also play the Kevin Garnett role as the emotional leader of the squad.
On the flip side, Rondo and Smart are very stubborn, fiery individuals. It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility to think Smart and Rondo could end up like Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, only much worse. Stevens seems to have a good grasp of his players and should be able to put any locker room beefs to bed, but it's a concern nonetheless.
Drafting Smart would also mean the Celtics would have a backcourt that doesn't exactly light the world on fire from behind the arc. While that's an issue, it can be addressed by having a small forward who can shoot, bigs who can stretch the floor and shooters on the bench. Boston already has a seven-footer who can shoot in Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger continues to work on his shot. The Celtics could also trade for a shooting big (Kevin Love?).
While a Rondo-Smart pairing seems less than ideal on paper, in a league where teams have proven they don't need a center to win, less than ideal doesn't always mean unsuccessful.