If Marcus Smart had chosen to leave Oklahoma State after his freshman season, the Orlando Magic very likely would have made him the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. But a sophomore season marked by inconsistent play, immature outbursts, and lack of development have likely taken him out of the conversation for the Orlando Magic’s first draft pick this year.
The Orlando Magic were so high on Marcus Smart because he had the make-up of a young Russell Westbrook. At 6’4″ with a strong build, he is an imposing athletic force at point guard. He can sprint by bigger players and bully smaller ones. He wasn’t a pure point guard, averaging 3.4 turnovers per game compared to only 4.2 assists, and his perimeter shooting left much to be desired (29% from three-point range). But Smart had all the physical tools and the Magic felt confident in his development.
A year later, that development is looking iffy. Smart has cut down on his turnovers (2.6 per game) and upped his scoring average to 17.3 points per game, but the rest of his game is stagnant. His three point shooting is down to 28.2%, his assists have remained steady at 4.4 per game, and his steals have fallen from 3.0 to 2.4 per contest. Most distressingly, his mental make-up has come into question.
Last year Marcus Smart was viewed as a leader, mature beyond his years. This season, he has come off as whiny, immature, and emotional. In a game earlier this season against West Virginia, Smart violently kicked a chair WWE-style multiple times after picking up his second foul. (Sorry guys, you definitely deserve a video or a GIF here but the Internet has been scrubbed clean of all the evidence)
His excuse has been confusion over the NCAA’s new hand-check rules. Unable to get the calls he wants, Smart has developed a particularly nasty habit of flopping to get the refs’ attention:
I’ve probably built up a little reputation, and I’m not questioning that. But I’m not the only one flopping. Every team and every player does it to make sure you get the call – Marcus Smart to ESPN
Maybe it’s mature that he’s admitting it, but it doesn’t come off that way in the media. It sounds like whining. The fact that those comments were made after Oklahoma State lost 4 of its last 5 games doesn’t help.
Once in the Orlando Magic’s top 3, Smart has fallen behind the Australian Dante Exum and Tyler Ennis, the Syracuse Freshman. Exum is long, smooth, with a polished offensive game, while Ennis is the exact opposite of Smart. Not physically imposing, he plays under control, efficiently, with a knockdown outside shot.
The real reason Marcus Smart isn’t in the discussion for the Orlando Magic’s first pick is his terrible ft alongside Victor Oladipo. Both players have the same strengths and weaknesses, making any potential back-court dangerously devoid of outside shooting and play-making ability. With Oladipo coming into his own over the last month, the Magic will be more likely to pick a player to complement his strengths.
Now there is still a possibility that the Orlando Magic do draft Marcus Smart with their second first round pick. The New York Knicks/Denver Nuggets pick will likely end up in the 12-18 range. If Smart keeps falling, he could be a good value pick-up as a developmental player and first guard off the bench. His size allows him to defend either guard spot, even if his shooting doesn’t.
What do you think? Should the Orlando Magic move on from Marcus Smart? Let us know in the comments section below.