There are a lot of players at the top of the draft board that look to have the promise of being very good, if not All-Star NBA players, yet there is no clear cut #1 pick that stands head and shoulders above the rest. That being said, about halfway through the season, I feel a player is really starting to shine, and that player is Marcus Smart.
I was watching the KU vs OSU game this afternoon, it's probably the 4th or 5th time I've caught OSU this season and Smart not only continues to grow as a player, but continue to impress me as an elite talent. This was a game in which Ben McLemore dropped 23 points and I came away more impressed with Smart as a #1 pick option. Not because McLemore did anything but make athletic plays, hit long jumpers, including a clutch 3 at the end of the game, and play good D, but because he's an off ball guard, I feel he may be a better option for a 2nd or 3rd pick.
Smart is an elite specemin compared to NBA point guards, a strong bodied 6'4'' with a long wingspand and a guy who uses his strength and frame to wreak havoc on the glass, on defense and driving the lane. He finally made me realize, as a Kansas fan, that Elijiah Johnson will not play in the NBA.
Now, his 3 point shot is not good, even from a college perspective, but that same knock came along with Rose and Rondo. He's still a good free throw shooter and seems to have that "X Factor" and a good work ethic on the court.
I'll be the first to admit, I was not impressed the first time I saw him play, but he just continues to get better and absolutely has the size, athletic ability and IQ to be a very very good player at the next level. McLemore may be a 20 ppg scorer at the next level as a shooter and athletic wing, in fact, I'd bet on it. Zeller may be a safe pick, a mobile 7 footer who helped turn around a once elite school and Shabazz may be a good one on one player, but Smart seems, at least, to me, as a more attractive pick because I feel the other guys need to be paired with other players to help turn a franchise around, but I feel Smart could be a conrner stone player for a franchise.
This may depend on who gets the pick, Cleveland or Washington may not pick him because of past investments in point guards with the #1 pick, but I feel if you need a franchise player in this draft, your best bet is Marcus Smart.
I think Marcus Smart will be a better jump shooter early on than Rose or Rondo was in their early careers. Unlike those two, Smart has a textbook jumpshot with excellent mechanics(look at his FT%). I also think he is more ready to run the point than the other two as Rondo was slowly brought along and DRose was more of a scoring point guard. I think his lack of athleticism will limit his potential but his excellent size and strength for a guard will help him alot.
He doesn't fly down the lane and dunk on people, like Rose does, but he's athletic. There was a break away dunk in the first half that showcased him getting, at least 11' in the air after a long takeoff.
The game was just a few hours ago, so here is the best I could find for a replay.
Wow I like his explosiveness, I doubt he has the quickness or speed of most top flight guards, good to know he can rise up high and strong
He has been shining for most of the season. He is very good but still not good enough to be a clear cut top pick, there remains no one who fits that bill. This is a very deep draft though
Nah, I watched Smart and McLemore this afternoon as well, Smart's potential just isn't as high as McLemore's is to me.
But with that being said Nerlens Noel is starting to come on very strong, and I'd take him at #1 if he continues his strong play.
The only way I'd take McLemore over Smart is if McLemore decides he is the man and starts to take over games offensively. He very well could, but as of now, despite the fact he's clutch and a great shooter is too much of an off ball guard to take with the first pick. I watch all of Kansas games, and sometimes it's frustrating how passive he can be on offense.
Granted, if McLemore got paired with a good point guard, he could really score a lot of points in the NBA, but he needs to take the next step, something Smart is already doing.
At one point very early in the season I said Smart should be the first guard taken ( I consider Bazz a Wing) and wouldn't be surprised if he was a top 3 pick by the time the draft comes around. He just has a professional game and the ability to stand out regardless of who else is on the floor. He gives me the same feeling that I had with a guy like Irving when he played at Duke, Turner at OSU, and even Waiters last year at Syracuse. They seemed to just play the game in a way that seemed like it was going to be effective regardless of what league or level they were in and always shined a little brighter then the competition on the court.
Smart needs to continue to shoot better tho if we're talking about him going number one, but it's not like you can completely rule him out either.
I'm from the dfw area and I'm in highschool and watched Marcus smart play when he was at flower mound and he is a winner , that hustles, defends, rebounds, and unselfish much like MKG. Of course everyone knows all of that by now but the difference between then and now is, he can really run the point at the college and NBA level but when in highschool he was said to be a sg almost in the mold of Wade. I also heard his work ethic is off the charts, and that he shot 500 shots after every game. This guy definitely loves basketball and hates losing, I agree with that corner stone type player that can set the tone and lead by example with his hard work and passion.With all of that being said ,I'm not sure I would take him first overall even in this draft.I just don't know if he can have that franchise changing ability, but in this weak class and next years class being so stacked , maybe the worst team in the league that gets that pick needs that tone setter and prepare for the 2014 draft class to get a guy like a Janari Parker,Andrew Wiggons , or Julius Radle.
I'd have reservations about drafting Smart to be a primary ball-handler, mainly because of his handle. He's just not a dynamic ball-handler. He doesn't have that change of speed and direction, has a weak left hand, doesn't have a great burst and when he gets into the paint in the half court he's a below the rim player. In the open court, when he gets his steps together and he has momentum he can finish spectacularly, but not in the half court.
I personally think his best position at the next level would be as a playmaking 2, similar to the role that Iguodala has played: Swiss army knife defender, 2ndary ball-handler who sometimes handles point and playmaking duties. If he's drafted as a PG I think it'd be best if he played alongside a wing who could handle and has breakdown ability. Until he gets a passable jumper, his backcourt/wing mates will have to be knockdown shooters as well.
I don't see him as someone with franchise player potential either. Maybe he could be a culture changing personality because he's basically the ultimate winner, high intangibles guy who plays with infectious energy, but I don't think he could produce or draw defensive attention like a franchise player.
I don't know about going that high but if I was Sacramento I would do what I had to to get him, they need a charismatic leader like they were the team at the beginning of a sports movie.
I agree with this. He'd be a perfect fit IMO. He might not be the perfect fit skill-wise, but they need someone with his intelligence, work ethic and leadership skills.
Put this guy in Tyreke's role and I think the Kings are instantly a better team.
Smart has gotten better as the year has gone on, but a good part of it is that he isn't playing to his weakness so much by settling for threes and long jumpers. This is a very good thing, it shows a level of introspection and maturity for a freshman to make a mid-season adjustment, but on the other hand it is still a notable weakness. I don't think in a lottery where most of the teams involved have either recently drafted in the lottery a point guard or signed a point guard for multiple years that a bad team would look to make that kind of change with so many other holes on their roster.
I am not a fan of Nerlens Noel as the top pick, because blocked shots don't mean enough to offset the fact that he isn't NBA big in terms of height or bulk as well as being really raw offensively. I don't see how he helps a bad team. Bad teams aren't bad because they lack athleticism or energy, and there is no connection between shot blockers and good defense in the NBA. This isn't an Andre Drummond situation where he is 6'11 and 290 lbs with soft hands, but it wouldn't surprise me if a team tries to make that argument.
Cody Zeller reminds me of Brook Lopez, but I'm not sure he will ever quite enough lower body base strength to play up to that level as a true center. That would be my biggest concern, because if he was 265 lbs. or someone was assured he could get there without all the problems that come with weight gains, he would probably be the best bet. The value of a true skilled center is the ultimate trump card, but I'm just not sure he is a center. Also, I also tend to think that there will be teams who look at Tyler's middling rookie year (where he is basically being used as a mid-range shooter as a spacing by means strategy on a team where only Kyrie can shoot) against him. My guess would be that it is more likely he would drop a few slots than go #1.
Alex Len had a good game against Kentucky and is 7'1". I get why people got excited, but Kentucky isn't up to their brand name. From a purely post skills standpoint, he is probably the third best post player on Maryland behind Mitchell and Cleare. Announcers are whining about the guards not getting enough touches, but he does nothing with the ones he gets. Also, the guards don't seem to have a problem getting Mitchell and Cleare touches. Both of them have weight and conditioning issues, and neither is close to 7-feet, but the level of apologizing for Len not getting touches is not based in reality.
Similarly to Smart, the issue of a team going for Ben McLemore is figuring out how much better he is than what they already have. Are Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson the reasons the Bobcats stink? No. Are they probably two of the higher functioning players on that team? Yes. Do I think McLemore is going to be significantly better in the NBA than Arron Afflalo? Probably not. Toronto just paid DeMar DeRozan. Washington just drafted Bradley Beal. New Orleans drafted Austin Rivers and paid Eric Gordon. I just don't know how many teams would be willing to pull the trigger on him as the top pick.
Given the dearth of shooting and skill on the worst teams of the NBA, and their general lack of investment in small forwards, Shabazz Muhammad is probably the guy who makes the most sense for the most teams. He seemingly has the height and wingspan of Melo, so the measureables will check out. I don't think a team, whether Orlando, Washington, Cleveland, Sacramento/Seattle, Charlotte, New Orleans, or Minnesota, would regret going that route given all the things he brings to the table. Maybe if Toronto gets the top pick, they look at Marcus Smart as their get-out-of-Kyle-Lowry free card. It is possible Detroit looks at Smart as a better backcourt partner for Brandon Knight, but they'd probably look to Muhammad or maybe they'd be the team that fits for McLemore.