The draft is a week and a half away. Crazy, right?
Speaking of crazy, that's kind of what I am about Marcus Smart. In his sophomore year at Oklahoma State, the 20-year-old averaged 18 ppg, 5.9 rebounds, 4.8 apg, and 2.9 spg while making over 50 percent of his two-pointers. At the combine, he measured in at 6'3" with a ridiculous 6'9" wingspan while weighing-in at 227 lbs. of pure muscle. He's long enough to defend both guard spots and more than strong enough to get where he wants on the court. Just how strong is he?
Marcus Smart also bench pressed 185 pounds 19 times, tied for 3rd best at the NBA Combine this year. One of best ever among PGs historically
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 16, 2014
But it's more than just his physical tools that have my fingers crossed for Smart. He's a born leader who oozes intensity. He's a scrapper and a gamer and any other cliche you can think up for a guy who loves to compete and gives everything on the court every game. Think Kevin Garnett in guard form.
Of course, Smart has his warts like any rookie and his comes in the form of three-point shooting. Don't get me wrong, the guy is a scorer. Inside the arc, he's unstoppable, but he shot just under 30 percent on his threes this past season. A recently released video from DraftExpress shows Smart is working on that jumper, as well as highlighting his elite athleticism.
So where does Smart fit in Boston's rebuild? The Celtics already have an elite point guard in Rajon Rondo, but he is a free agent next summer, so there is no guarantee Rondo will be the guy to build around going forward. Even if Rondo stays, Smart has all the tools to play shooting guard, once that jumper becomes more automatic. Also, coach Brad Stevens has said he likes running a system with two point guards on the floor at the same time.
If the Celtics can re-sign Avery Bradley, they would have the best defensive guard rotation in the league. If you thought Bradley and Courtney Lee were pit bulls, just imagine the havoc Bradley and Smart could create. I've been critical of Rondo's defense during the regular season in the past, however, when he's your third best guard on defense, it makes his gambling a bit easier to swallow.
Sure, that trio wouldn't light the world on fire offensively right away, but it's not as simple as saying Boston would have three guards who "can't shoot." Bradley showed marked improvement on his shooting last season and Smart needs to work on his, but it's not like he's starting from scratch. Rondo is one of the best passers in the league, if not the best, which means he has the ability to get his teammates high-percentage shots. They won't be entering any three-point shooting contests any time soon, but they'll get points.
Given that most of the top talent in this draft will be gone by the time Boston picks at No. 6, you could do much worse than to grab a great two-way player at that spot who could become the team's emotional leader. There's a ton of ways this draft could play out, either with trades or guys falling and rising. If GM Danny Ainge decides to pull the trigger on Smart, you won't be disappointed.