The Celtics select Marcus Smart with the sixth pick in the 2014 #NBADraft.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 27, 2014
Coming into the draft, Smart was regarded as one of the best point guards available. There isn't too much to not like about his game, and he'll now team up with Rajon Rondo in Boston.
Although he doesn't possess the explosiveness of Dante Exum, the former Oklahoma State star can penetrate and finish inside, in addition to being the primary ball-handler and creator offensively. Smart can be a terror on the defensive end as well. If he improves his jump shot, he'll be an All-Star.
Perhaps what's working most in Smart's favor are his physical tools. Few point guards have his combination of power and athleticism.
His bench-press numbers at the combine were among the best ever for a point guard, per DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony:
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
In addition to his strength, Smart used the combine to display how agile he is despite his size, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Marcus Smart's lane agility time of 10.82 is faster than John Wall (10.84), Russell Westbrook (10.98) and Chris Paul (11.09)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 16, 2014
Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders described the former Cowboys point guard as a linebacker:
Marcus Smart doesn't look like a point guard, he looks like a linebacker. He's going to be a tough, tough PG match-up with that frame.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) May 16, 2014
Of course, any breakdown of Smart's game must address the attitude issues that nearly derailed his final season in Stillwater.
There's no doubt coaches love to have players who are passionate and willing to fight for each win. Sometimes, though, Smart gets a little too carried away, as evidenced by his actions during Oklahoma State's win over West Virginia back in January and shoving of Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr in February.
That all led some to wonder if Smart should have returned to the Cowboys in the first place. Maybe he would have been better off leaving after his freshman season.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis, the newest member of the Celtics denied having any regret about returning to Stillwater for his sophomore campaign:
I'm not going to sit here and say I didn't have times where I was like man, it'd feel good to have some money in my pocket, but at the same time college life is a great experience. The ultimate goal was for me to go to the NBA. Well guess what—I'm still having the chance to go to the NBA. Everybody has the right to voice their own opinions, but they're not living my life.
Much of what happened during Smart's last year in college was blown out of proportion, and in the months leading up to the draft, that has all been pushed to the back burner, allowing the player's true talent to shine through.
Although the journey was a little more rocky than expected, Smart has finally arrived in the NBA. He should be able to make an impact in his rookie season due to his game-ready skill set on both sides of the ball. Once he carves out a large enough role, he'll be among the top players to watch from the 2014 draft class.