Former Oklahoma State Cowboys point guard Marcus Smart had a tough season as a sophomore, but thanks to some strong numbers at the NBA Draft Combine, the 20-year-old has helped solidify his draft stock.
Smart's draft stock took a hit this past season after deciding to return for his sophomore year. His play was just as impressive, but an altercation with a fan in February led to a three-game suspension. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports talked to one NBA general manager after the fight who believed his stock took a hit, with the GM saying:
His stock is going to take a hit. He has shown in the past few months that he is prone to outbursts. He kicked a chair (against West Virginia). He's under a lot of pressure. The team is not doing well, struggling. Fans say things in the NBA every day. He has a history of letting people get under his skin. The NBA fans will test him.
Now that the altercation is a few months old, scouts are more concerned with what he'll be able to do at the next level, and he has impressed during his workouts at the combine. He posted an impressive lane agility time of 10.82 seconds, and according to ESPN Stats & Info, that time was better than the times John Wall, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul put up when they were at the combine.
Those weren't the only impressive numbers for Smart. He posted a 33-inch vertical, according to Erik Horne from NewsOK.com, while measuring at just over 6'3'' with a wingspan over 6'9''. He bench pressed 185 pounds 19 times, according to Jonathan Givony from Draft Express, and point guards rarely get that many reps.
Those numbers have helped confirm what many already believed. Smart is a big guard that's also a terrific athlete, helping him on both sides of the court. Smart's numbers from last season support that claim, as he averaged 18 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.9 steals per game.
Still, Smart is going to have to work on being a more efficient scorer, especially from the perimeter. One of the big reasons Smart returned was to improve his three-point shooting, but the numbers didn't go up, as he went from shooting 29 percent to 29.9 percent from behind the arc.
The decision to return for another year was widely criticized, but Smart doesn't have any regrets.
"Everything that happened this season, I wouldn't change it for a thing," Smart told Andrew Seligman from the Associated Press Friday at the combine. "It helped me. It got me ready for the NBA and things that come in the NBA."
Another knock on Smart is that it's unclear whether he'll play point guard or shooting guard at the next level. He ran the offense at Oklahoma State, but he's not a true distributor and has the size to play the No. 2 spot at 6'3''. Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman isn't convinced about Smart as a point guard, but he loves his effort on defense.
Regardless of where he plays in the NBA, Smart's combine numbers will help him out quite a bit, and he's almost a guarantee to be a lottery pick in June given his skill set.