Will Shoving Incident Affect Oklahoma State Prospect Marcus Smart's Draft Stock?

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterFebruary 9, 2014

USA Today

Just six seconds before his Oklahoma State Cowboys were about to lose their fifth game in their last six tries, Marcus Smart's bubble of frustration officially burst. 

He completely lost control and shoved a fan with a blow to the chest—an obvious no-no at any and every level. And there's really nothing Smart can do at this point to justify his actions, whether the fan verbally crossed the line or not.

But if we're looking at this incident from under an NBA-draft lens, it's not likely to make as big of a wave.

You're probably not going to find many general managers who immediately went running to their draft boards to penalize Smart. 

“He is frustrated with the season and I believe that had a lot to do with his outburst," one scout told SNY's Adam Zagoria. "No excuse for his actions but how he addresses it will determine whether he drops at all. If he does slip it will not be significant.”

This was just your textbook case of competitive rage intoxication. Any athlete has likely seen red in a game at one point in their careers. And unfortunately, Smart just wasn't able to control himself in this particular instance. 

But Smart has been in the public eye long enough for us to know what we're dealing with and what we're not. He's just a fiery, intense competitor who's willing to run through traffic to get a win, a result he frequently earned before enrolling in college as a two-time high school state champion. 

But lately he's losing, something he's not used to, and he's handling it poorly. It's a part of the maturation process, and this is just a rough stage in that process. 

However, it's not something Smart will be able to simply brush off and forget. General managers are going to grill him during the pre-draft period—because if there's one thing that draws a red flag, it's a pattern. 

And this shoving incident wasn't the first sign of a temper problem. On Jan. 25 against West Virginia, Smart's frustration got the best of him again, when he was seen karate-kicking a chair in disgust before storming off the court to cool down behind the bleachers. 

Prior to January, Smart seemed like a guy who'd seamlessly breeze right through NBA security. And now he's likely to get the full search.

Still, if anything, an NBA team might force him to see a sports psychologist or something of that nature. But we're not exactly talking about a dangerous loose cannon or a toxic locker-room presence here. 

The shove isn't going to be the reason a team passes on him on draft night. Frankly, if a team isn't interested in Smart, it's probably because of his 28.1-percent three-point stroke or his mediocre 1.59 assist-to-turnover ratio.

But Smart's character had never been questioned. He's built up the reputation as a humble leader, and if you've ever spoken with or listened to him, self-awareness appears to be a strength. 

When NBA decision makers interview him in June, chances are they're just going to see a die-hard competitor who lost his cool in the heat of the moment—a moment that seems unlikely to repeat itself.

Smart plays the game with a visible edge. You don't need to know much about basketball to detect the fire and intensity that fuel his production. And in this particular instance, Smart wasn't able to channel that fire appropriately. 

"I let my emotions get the best of me," Smart said in a press conference held Sunday afternoon. And that's really all this was. It's not going to permanently stain his image or NBA draft stock. 

Unless he sets off another alarm between now and June, there's really nothing more to this than a frustrated competitor who needs to learn how to lose. 

One of the things that makes Smart so likable as a prospect is that he cares more than anyone else on the floor. This was just an instance of Smart caring a little too much, and there's just no way enough NBA coaches or general managers are going to hold it against him to such an extent that it damages his long-term professional outlook.