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Does Marcus Smart's reputation for flopping actually matter?

Probably not, but little bit of subtlety can go a long way.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

"Drawing fouls chiefly requires the ability to provide good, heartwarming drama and to direct it to the right audience. I never forget where the referees are when I go into an act. The most reliable eye-catcher is still the pratfall. Particularly on defense, when everything else fails, I fall down."

Who does that sound like? Manu Ginobili, Vlade Divac, maybe even Reggie Miller? The answer is Celtics legend Frank Ramsey. Ramsey wasn't just the originator of the sixth-man role; he was also a master of the flop. Jason Concepcion's old Grantland article is filled with flopping advice from Ramsey. This is interesting because Red Auerbach was outspoken against flopping despite utilizing it on his teams. It might seem hypocritical, but the Celtics were just executing the prisoner's dilemma to perfection back then. Sure it would be nice to totally eliminate flopping, but there's a competitive advantage in effectively flopping, especially if your coach is railing against it. Dave Cowens would hate me for saying this, but flopping is a part of Celtics history.

Flash forward to today, and Marcus Smart has taken up the mantle of the theatrical Celtics guard. He was notorious during his time at Oklahoma State for selling calls. But this season he drew a ton of attention and criticism for his flops. There was everything from columns, to YouTube compilations, even Vine parodies. It was a small miracle he didn't get hit with a crying Jordan. You would expect that the refs would be aware of this reputation. There was a chorus of worriers, myself included, that predicted a drop in the amount of calls that Smart would get. We even heard some classic anonymous referee quotes. But the numbers don't reflect this concern.

Per, Smart has finished third in the NBA in offensive fouls drawn each of the last two seasons. On a per-36-minute basis, his two seasons have been nearly identical in terms of offensive fouls drawn.

OFF Fouls Drawn


Per 36









It's possible that he could have drawn more fouls without his reputation, but it's hard to argue with his success so far. It seems like everyone got a little carried away with their fears about referee retribution against Smart. The only part of his approach that I would change is the excessiveness of some flops.

A few of Smart's flops earned some Oscar buzz this season, but I disagree with that analysis. Those incidents were too absurd to be believed. The Academy Awards are supposed to honor good acting. Tommy Wiseau didn't take home the Oscar for his performance in The Room. Smart doesn't have to go all Daniel Day Lewis and method act his way into flopping excellence. Just a touch more subtlety is all he really needs going into next season. He's already excelling at drawing fouls, so that could put him over the top.

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