The Celtics selected Marcus Smart with the No. 6 pick in the NBA draft on Thursday. Here’s a look at Smart and how he fits with Boston:
Bio: Oklahoma State | Sophomore | Point guard
Vitals: 6-3, 227 pounds
2013-14 stats: 18.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.9 steals, 42.2 FG%, 29.9 3FG%
Strengths: Smart is a dogged defender and one of the best rebounders at his position. The 20-year-old is also a good finisher from close range and doesn’t shy away from contact. He drew nearly seven fouls per 40 minutes last season, which ranked 50th in the country. Smart showed improved distribution skills from his freshman season, boosting his assist rate nearly four percentage points, and is a terror in the open court, as he scored 1.134 points per possession on transition plays, according to Synergy Sports. In addition, coaches have long raved about Smart’s leadership qualities.
Weaknesses: The biggest flaw in Smart’s game is his shooting. He hit only 29.5 percent from three-point range in two seasons with the Cowboys. His shot selection and mechanics both need work. Though he showed improvement as a distributor, Smart sometimes neglects the best pass in favor of uncontrolled forays into the paint. And for all the praise Smart has earned for his intangibles, the fan-shoving incident at Texas Tech won’t be overlooked.
Team Fit: With Rajon Rondo’s future as a Celtic up in the air for a while, Boston is putting in a backup plan with Smart, a tough, strong competitor whose defense instantly translates to the NBA level, along with the scoring chops to line up alongside Boston’s star point guard. This gives the Celtics flexibility for the long term as well as a guy who can step in and log minutes for a team picking in a best-player-available situation.
Like Rondo, Smart’s a poor shooter and great defender. He’s not as natural of a passer, but won’t get pushed around and should be able to contribute well as he gets accustomed to the pace of the league. Smart, Rondo and Avery Bradley give Boston an athletic (though undersized) backcourt that will be able to pressure opponents and interchange spots. As Boston continues to rebuild with a need at guard, Smart makes for a good choice here.