Marcus Smart's NCAA career likely ended this weekend with a loss to Gonzaga in the Round of 64. We can now take a step back and conduct an inventory of everything he displayed this season as an NBA prospect, as well as the things he still has to improve on.
Any discussion about Smart's prospects in the NBA have to start with his tremendous physical profile, as it will certainly give him a major advantage at his position and be one of the keys to any success he finds. Standing 6-4, with a 6-8 wingspan and a ripped 225 pound frame, Smart is bigger and stronger than most NBA point guards, and he's not afraid to use that to his advantage.
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.
On the downside, Smart still sports a very inconsistent jump-shot, something that didn't really improve from his freshman to sophomore seasons. His shooting mechanics leave a lot to be desired, as he dips the ball violently, and fades forward and sometimes sideways on his release. That wouldn't be that big of an issue if Smart didn't take as many jumpers as he does—nearly half of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc, and he hit just 30% of them, many being contested ones early in the shot clock.
Smart is not a non-shooter by any stretch, but his poor decision making hampers his percentages significantly. He will have some very ugly low-efficiency nights in the NBA against better-organized defenses until he learns how to reel himself in and plays within his limitations.
Other issues, such as his reputation for flopping, and the very short fuse he showed pushing a fan in the stands at Texas Tech, are ones NBA teams will likely want to explore further during the draft process. This reportedly wasn't the first time he put hands on someone according to what we've been told by reliable sources. Additionally, while many are quick to laud his intangibles as a winner, it's important to note that he did not win a NCAA Tournament game in his two years at Oklahoma State.
With that said, it's difficult not to admire the Joakim Noah style competitiveness Smart brings to the table, which can be very valuable in a long 82 game regular season, particularly for organizations trying to improve their “team culture.”
Matchups against the likes of Kansas, Iowa State, Baylor, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Texas and Memphis have given us ample opportunity to evaluate Smart's very defined strengths and weaknesses as a prospect, which we've done in the following video scouting report, courtesy of Mike Schmitz.
All of our video scouting reports this season can be found here.