We are less than a week away from the NBA Draft and the Celtics are hard at work evaluating prospects and working the phones for potential trades. Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall in the Waltham offices right about now? That would require some interesting science or some serious DARPA technology. So the next best thing is to read about how the process went down a year ago.
Adam Himmelsbach has produced an excellent long form look at the Celtics decision to draft Marcus Smart with the 6th pick last year. The whole thing is obviously worth a read, so please do so at the link below. However, I wanted to highlight a key portion of the piece that I thought spoke volumes about Smart as well as the staff's evaluation process.
Smart worked out for the Celtics initially against some other top names in the draft. That session didn't go so well.
Years before drafting him, Celtics eyed Marcus Smart - Sports - The Boston Globe
Early in the session, Smart leaped to block a shot and twisted his ankle when he landed awkwardly on LaVine's foot. He did not reveal his pain, because he did not want to show weakness. But now, he acknowledges, that injury flustered him. He missed shot after shot.
Danny Ainge's opinion did not change, but the lukewarm showing ignited some concerns among others on the staff.
"We were like, ‘Wow, that was bad,' " Austin Ainge said.
So the Celtics made an unusual request: They wanted Smart to return for a second workout.
"I'm going to come back better this time than I was last time," Smart told his agents at Wasserman. "And if they want me to come back a third time, I'm gonna be even better."
In Smart's second workout, his competitive fire was apparent. He had something to prove.
"I was getting to the rim, making shots, playing defense," he said. "I made my dominance known."
Said Danny Ainge: "Our staff was not on the same page before that. His second workout allowed us to collectively and unanimously be on the same page."
I had heard the story before that Smart came in for an unprecedented second workout, but I didn't realize that it was because he was hurt in the first one (and didn't say anything about it).
Smart continued to capitalize on that fire in his first season as a Boston Celtic and I'm hoping that he continues to play with a chip on his shoulder and a work ethic that makes me think of him as a pint-sized Kevin Garnett (high praise from this seat).
I'm looking forward to more development and fiery competitiveness from Marcus Smart and I'm looking forward to seeing who the Celtics brain trust comes up with in the draft next week.