EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The Los Angeles Lakers hold the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft and on Wednesday held their first set of workouts with one 0f the players they had participate was none other than Oklahoma State standout point guard Marcus Smart.
Smart last year was seen as a lock by many as a top three choice of the 2013 draft but made the decision to return for his sophomore year after an impressive freshman season that saw him average 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. He also lead his team to a 24–8 overall record, finished third place in the Big 12, and a No.5 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
His overall performance in 2013 earned him a slew of awards such as Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, USBWA National Freshman of the Year, Big 12 Freshman of the Year, First Team All-Big 12 honors, and was a consensus second team All-American.
With all that in mind, the Texas native decided to come back for another season at Oklahoma State to get another chance at possibly winning a national championship and work on his personal game, but with that came more exposure to his skills set as it showed his lack of consistent outside shooting as he shot 30 percent from 3-point range and 42 percent from the field. However he did see an increase in points per game to 18.0, decrease in turnovers (3.4 to 2.6).
His overall offensive play remained fairly consistent throughout the year as he only failed to reach double digit scoring outputs in three games and topped over 20 points in 12 games that included becoming the first player in NCAA tournament history to have at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals in a single game. As for the season he earned a second First Team All-Big 12 honors, and was named Third team All-American by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
What these accolades and statistics all shows is that Smart had a great collegiate career in his two seasons at Oklahoma State, and on Wednesday afternoon he appeared to be ready to take on best of the best at his position in the NBA.
“I don’t care who I go up against. I am a competitor. It’s not going to be that way when I step on the court. I don’t want to go up against Chris Paul but you are going to have to guard him at your position,” Smart said. “You might as well get used to guys at a higher rank, lower rank or at your level right now. My mindset is whoever they put in front of me and I am going to compete everyday. Tyler (Ennis) and I competed and it was a good competition.”
Smart in his collegiate career showed that he is a player who likes to use physicality on both ends of the court, and it is something he plans to rely on as he transition to the next level.
“I am able to use my bigger body set, it makes it harder for guys. I don’t have to shake and bake as much. I can make one move and get my shoulder by you cause I’m so strong and it doesn’t take a lot for me to get by you, so that helps me on the offensive end,” Smart said. “On the defensive end, I can get into you and guide you where I want you to go. There is going to be guys quicker than me, so I got to use my length and size.”
He also added:
“I’m very confident for my size. I’m 6-foot-4, I have strength, I have a 6-foot-9 wingspan, and I move pretty good laterally so I use those (qualities) to my advantage.
With his outside shooting ability his one area of weakness in his offensive game, Smart stated that he has made it a priority to work on developing a consistent jump shot, which is something he knows that he will need to have in order to be successful in the NBA.
“I am still working on become a more consistent shooter,” Smart said. “My jump shot is getting better day-by-day and it’s improved drastically but I am still working on it. It’s a work in progress.”
Although he has made his name with his physical play and by being a stout defender at his position with his quick hands, Smart believes that it is his playmaking ability that is his best skill. As he had 2.87 steals per game last season that ranked him best in the Big 12 and was third in Division I. This along with his balanced overall numbers of 18.0 points, 5.9 assists, and 4.8 rebound showed that he can affect the game in more than one way on both ends of the floor.
“I am a playmaker,” It’s not just offense or defense its on both side (of the court). I can affect the game on both ends.”
When asked about his draft position, Smart stated that it depends on the team’s need on where he ultimately lands, but if he is selected by the Lakers with the seventh overall pick it looks like would more than welcome the opportunity to play with one of the league’s most decorated franchises.
“It’s crazy, its a great feeling not many people can say that they have seen those (retired) jerseys in person,” Smart said after seeing eight retired player jerseys at the training facility on Wednesday. “It’s an honor to be here and I am excited and blessed.”
The 20-year-old has also already received support and encouragement from the many Lakers fans on social media platforms such as Twitter, which he checks his personal account on the website daily.
“I do, I am on it everyday. It’s crazy how many Lakers fans there are,” Smart said. “They are excited and say ‘it’s Lakerland, we need Marcus in Lakerland.’ It’s been an excited process.”
If the Lakers do indeed select Smart, they will be getting a player who seems determined to show that he has what it takes to play in the NBA.
Photo Credit: USA Today