Well, draft night is over, and I believe Celtics nation is torn on the results. Many were disappointed there were no "fireworks", in fact the Cs didn't even make a deal on draft night which is rare. Many are very disappointed with the Marcus Smart pick, but I personally am excited to see this guy in green next year. I know he was not an ideal fit, but at this point in the draft, not many prospects were a good fit. Embiid was gone. Gordon was gone. Exum was gone. The best alternatives were Randle, McDermott, or Vonleh, none of which I am a big fan of.
Some speculate that this means Rondo will be traded, and they are probably right. Rondo and Smart may be able to co-exist for a little while, but their skillsets overlap and they are not a good long term fit. My more immediate concern is what this means for Avery Bradley. I would like to see Bradley stay. Rondo/Smart/Bradley would be a killer 3-guard rotation, especially defensively. It is worth mentioning that Bradley's future wasn't all that clear before the selection of Smart. I'm not sure if the Celts are willing to pay Bradley the $7-9 million he deserves, and although he is restricted, I'm sure there are a few teams that are willing to offer Bradley a contract out of our price range.
Despite his deficiencies, some advanced stats tell us that Smart has a bright future in the NBA. Some recent studies have shown a strong correlation between steal % in college and NBA success. In fact, statistically speaking steal % is one of the greatest predictors in NBA success. This article shows some recent draft picks and their rebound %, steal %, etc, and gives me a great deal of confidence in smart. In the last five drafts the top 4 in steal % have all become NBA starters and have had reasonably successful careers so far (Iman Shumpert, MCW, Dion Waiters, Oladipo). Also near the top in steal % were Paul George and Kenneth Faried. The worst 5 in steal % in the last five years' drafts have had very limited success and are struggling at the next level (Doron Lamb, Hardaway Jr., Malcolm Lee and Shabazz Muhammed) Smart was 2nd in the NCAA in steal % behind only Jordan Adams. Among the worst in steal % this year were Nik Stauskas and Doug McDermott. It's also worth noting that Smart led all PGs in rebound % as well.
Smart needs to overcome his shooting woes, and more importantly improve on his shot selection. He settles for too many 3s and has pretty poor, but easily correctable, shooting habits. However, He shoots 65% in the paint which is VERY good for a guard. He has the speed and strength to get into the paint at the next level, and he has shown he can finish. He is also great at getting to the line. He was among the leaders in the NCAA in free throw attempts (over 8 attempts a game), and converts them at an acceptable rate. He inevitably draws comparisons to Dwyane Wade in this aspect, and rightfully so. They're body types are very similar, and Smart even has 20 more pounds of muscle than rookie-wade. Again, he's not an ideal candidate to pair with Rondo and his own shooting woes, but both of them are such great competitors I believe they will make it work. Rondo's jumper is slowly improving and I believe Smart's will in time as well.
Overall, I am very excited about the results of this years draft. I think Danny selected the best players available to him. The future is uncertain, but at this point, we are so far away from a championship that we have to choose the best players available and worry about fit later. I believe Smart was the best player available, and is a guy this team can build around for the next decade, and he will be a fan favorite for a long time. He is also probably the most NBA-ready of this class behind Jabari Parker. I am not worried about his attitude.. he has the demeanor of a champion, and in the long run I think the energy and desire to win he brings will far outweigh the occasional outburst that may arise. He gives this team the spark it was missing and is absolutely a Celtic in spirit. I can't wait to see this kid on the court and help the Cs win some games next year!!