THE COMMENT SECTION OF THIS POST IS CLOSED
OPP's favorite player, Marcus Smart, was on TV last night. I had been looking forward to this game for a few weeks, because I had never seen him play and I was really interested to see what the fuss , positive or negative, was about with this player. I watched practically every second of him on the court(I was cooking dinner at the same time so if I missed a few seconds I will apologize).
I will be upfront, this post is not to sway people either way. This is just a review of what I saw last night and my thoughts while I was watching the game. If you get swayed, so be it but that is not my purpose. Just an honest breakdown of what I saw. (I took lots of notes)
Having said that, if you watched(not just read the boxscore) kind of hard not to be impressed with what the sophomore did on the court last night. His first half was better than anything the superb freshman have done in one game all season, and I have seen all their big games. I know some don't like when you say player is very strong as the first attribute, but this is a big and thick PG. It allows him to get to the rim. He had great spin move and went to work in the post early and often in this early parts of the game. He did airball(badly mind you) a jump shot, but other than that his other shots looked really good. Like I mentioned earlier I had never seen him play, but his form looks good. He draws tons of fouls. Forced two fouls on 3 Point shots. He is a great defender. Both one-on-one and team. Talks to teammates and guides them. Good rebounder as well.
What was funny, was that early he played off the ball a ton. And I kept thinking, if the Magic draft him how are he and Oladipo gonna mesh? They both can't play off the ball, somebody has to run the offense. As the half continued, he played more as the PG. Memphis had made a run while he was on the bench resting. He came in and the defensive intensity increased and OSU closed out the half strong. Smart had 24 point on the first half 50% from the field(50% from 3 as well) and 6-8 from the FT line. What was interesting was that he took a lot of shots, without dominating the ball. Not a chucker, although he did have two heat check 3's that I did not like. His passion is infectious and he is clearly the leader of this team. Intangibles are off the charts for this kid.
Second half was a little quieter, but the game was over. He continued to draw fouls. Hit a couple more 3's. What I loved was that he let the game come to him and kept everyone involved. Memphis, according to Bilas and many experts, has the "best backcourt" in the nation. Well Smart took that and eviscerated them. He came in with a chip on his shoulder, embraced the bright lights, and had the best game any college player has had this season. I know some have mentioned that he had pedestrian numbers against awful competition, I don't care about those as much since they are expected to win and the coach may be managing minutes. Against elite competition he was clearly the best player on the court. Not even close.
His assist numbers weren't that good, but he had a player miss an alley oop and a few others miss open shots. Again not concerned there. He can pass, not elite vision but good enough with capacity to have great vision. Lots of blocks and steals.
He is very well spoken for a 19 year old and he gets the big picture. He brings the players over to his dorm and they come up with scouting report. Marcus is a basketball junkie. Great kid.
To sum it all up, Marcus Smart seems to be like a bigger version of Russel Westbrook. He is that type of PG. If you don't like Westbrook, then you won't love Smart. It is just a fact. That is his game type. Similar personalities, similar games, etc. I could see Orlando taking him with a top 5 pick. For Dante Exum, all I saw was his best highlights, so I don't think I can compare them. But Marcus Smart dominated, a key word that OPP fans want to see college players do, elite competition. I am not making a final judgement on Smart, it was just one game, but if he continues to play like this, I believe Orlando will be in good hands with him at the point.
Sidenote: Kevin Durant was at the game. Is there any other bigger basketball junkie in the world than KD? I don't think so. He is probably my favorite player. He just consumes basketball. He is the man.
Sidenote II: OSU is a great team. They can win the title. I see why Marcus Smart came back. Winning is really important to him.