Guest writer and occasional PistonPowered commenter Pardeep Toor on his favorite NCAA player
- Measurables: 6’4, 220 lbs, Sophomore Guard from Oklahoma State
- Key Stats: 18.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.9 steals, 8.1 Free Throw Attempts, 42.2 FG%, 29.9 3P% and 72.8 FT%
- Projected: Top-five overall
Matters to No One But Me …
What do we know about Marcus Smart? No, seriously, I have no idea. I usually rely on Patty and Daniel on this here site to equip me with knowledge and jokes. Without their guidance, here’s what I think we know about Smart’s intangibles:
By drafting Marcus Smart you are embracing unpredictability. You are welcoming combustibility as a force for good. There’s an on-court passion and intensity to Smart that is impossible to quantify but we are sure of its existence because it radiates the basketball court as either a dominant performance or a complete meltdown. It’s the same mentality that makes Russell Westbrook a polarizing figure and made Allen Iverson oblivious to his deteriorating abilities and circumstances late in his career. There’s an unwavering stubbornness to Smart that is simultaneously a prerequisite for greatness and catastrophe.
I love Marcus Smart for the same reason that I enjoy Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and Demarcus Cousins - lingering volatility that promises a break in the basketball monotony (or because I have horrible taste in basketball players). After years of uninspired hoop from Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Rodney Stuckey and Josh Smith, it would be refreshing to infuse this organization with the most passionate player in this draft class, who if nothing else, promises a change from the apathy of the past five years.
Fits with the Pistons because …
Big secret: Marcus Smart is going to fall to the Pistons at the 7th or 8th pick in this year’s draft because athletes approaching seven-feet like Noah Voneleh, Aaron Gordon and Willie Cauley-Stein are going to enchant general managers in empty gyms all spring. The organization’s only responsibility from now until the draft is to determine what they do when he’s sitting there, in a bowtie, I’m guessing. Do you trade down to a team who values him more (Bulls for 16/19, Suns for 14 (Gary Harris!)/17(Nik Stauskas!))? Do you take Smart and beg another team to take Brandon Jennings? Do you take Smart and hope that he does something so many coaches have failed to do before, yell at Josh Smith for being awful? I sure hope so.
Marcus Smart doesn’t fit with the current Pistons roster but he’s worthy of the opportunity to become a fit. His ability to put pressure on opposing defenses by attacking and finishing at the rim, getting to the free throw line at a high rate and generating ball pressure and turnovers on the defensive end is going is to make him a franchise guard in the league. He possesses an NBA-ready build which should seamlessly translate his strengths to the next level.
This team needs talent and this is the last realistic opportunity to get it in the draft since they are almost certain to lose their 2015 first round pick (top-one protected) to Charlotte. A Marcus Smart/Andre Drummond future is enough talent to restore faith in the organization in the exact same way that a Trey Burke/Drummond core would have done last June. Let’s hope the Pistons get it right this year and take one of the most talented guys in the draft rather than falling for Chad Ford’s latest fast riser.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
If we are going to get technical about it then he doesn’t fit with the current Pistons core of Greg Monroe , Andre Drummond, Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith. He doesn’t help the team’s spacing issues (instead he adds to the weakness), or the gaping hole at the shooting guard/small forward positions. Pairing a ball dominant guard beside Brandon Jennings would create the same clutter in the backcourt that the Pistons have this season and will inevitably end with each guy taking turns trying to make plays (see: Jennings/Monta Ellis in 2012-13). It’s not an impossible situation. Orlando has creatively assimilated Victor Oladipo at both guard spots either as a starter or off the bench without hurting his development despite the presence of veterans Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo. But that assumes a level of coaching competency and long-term vision that has been lacking in this organization for the past many years.
The poor outside shooting is an issue that is more difficult to resolve than I used to think. Seeing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist struggle to find any range in his shot and ultimately give up shooting altogether (5.8 field goal attempts this year) is the worst case scenario for Smart’s jumper. Teams will sag on Smart from the opening day of Vegas League, pack the paint to limit working space for Monroe and Drummond and (*GASP*) probably result in more long jumpers for Smith. That’s a nightmare nobody is interested in reliving next season.
From the Experts
Smart shocked everyone last season by returning to school for his sophomore year despite the fact that he was slated to be a top-3 pick. He wanted to show scouts that he could improve his jumper and handle, and he really wanted to lead the Cowboys to an NCAA title. None of that has happened. The team has struggled, Smart has had issues with his shot and turnovers again, and his frustration has boiled over, dinging his rep as a high-character player. Despite all of that, though, most NBA GMs and scouts still believe there is greatness with Smart.
Smart makes a living inside the paint, as he relishes contact and gets to the free throw line nearly ten times per-40 minutes, while finishing 57% of his shots around the basket in the half-court. The role he will play in the NBA appears to be well defined, as he’s very good in transition and on the pick and roll, and is more than capable of creating shots for himself and others, something he appears to have improved on in his sophomore year. Smart’s assist to turnover and pure point ratio both increased notably this past season, particularly his ability to avoid coughing the ball up, as his turnover percentage decreased from an alarming 19% as a freshman to a much more manageable 14%.
Another area Smart is likely to excel in very early in the NBA is on the defensive end. With his size, strength and length, Smart is capable of guarding multiple positions, which gives his coach nice versatility to take advantage of in different schemes. He even proved strong enough to put a body on big men in certain stretches, showing the type of toughness and competitiveness NBA executives love. On top of that, he brings terrific anticipation skills for blocks, steals and rebounds, hauling in seven boards per-40 minutes and over three steals thanks to the intensity level and timing he displays.
Kevin Durant (11/20/13)
“… I like his demeanor. I like how he handles his teammates. A player like him, he always can burst out and get 30 or 40 points … He is poised.”