NBA Position: PG
General Information: 20 year old sophomore, played at Oklahoma State. From Flower Mound, Texas.
Measurables: 6'4", 220 lbs, 6'9.25" wingspan, 8'3" standing reach
2013-14 Season Statistics: 18.0 PPG, 4.8 APG, 5.9 RPG, 2.9 SPG, 2.6 TPG (32.7 minutes per contest) - 42.2 FG%, 72.8 FT%, 29.9 3FG%, 55.2 TS%
Summary: Smart is a big, strong point guard with sharp floor general instincts and a bulldog approach on defense. He's an inconsistent shooter, but aside from that, there isn't much to dislike in Smart's game; he's smart, crafty, and ran the Oklahoma State offense fairly well considering the lack of talent around him. He's a popular pick in Mock Drafts for the Kings, and could fit in well regardless of the team's decision on Isaiah Thomas.
Offensive Breakdown: Smart has the size of a shooting guard with the passing skills and handles of a point guard. His primary offensive weapon is his ability to get to the basket, where he had great success (64.9% shooting at the rim) due to his strength and body control. While Smart won't win a footrace against every NBA point guards (his had a three-quarter court sprint time of 3.26 seconds and an agility run of 10.82, which is near identical to what Ray McCallum had last year), he's got a good first step and knows how to get through traffic with the ball.
Smart is a combo-guard strictly because he has the ability to play both positions, although he didn't spend too much time off the ball. As a point guard, Smart is woefully underrated. The term combo-guard seems to imply a NaPG, but Smart managed 4.8 assists per game (5.8 per 40 minutes) and a 30.2% assist rate. While those numbers are lower than both Tyler Ennis (5.5 and 32.2%) and Elfrid Payton (5.9 APG and 32.9%), it's important to note the lack of consistent players surrounding him. His lone consistent teammate was guard Markel Brown-forward Le'Bryan Nash was supposed to be Smart's primary weapon, but ended up as a model for streaky players.
Smart is a capable point guard who looks to keep his teammates involved, but isn't afraid to carry the team when necessary. Towards the end of the season this gravitated towards the latter; aside from Brown, he was basically the only player for Oklahoma State that bothered to show up for their NCAA Tournament loss to Gonzaga. If he lands on a team with some established talent, he'll surprise many with his point guard skills.
Smart isn't the world's best ballhandler, coughing up 2.6 turnovers a contest (14% turnover rate), but this is more forgivable given his role as singular offensive weapon for the Cowboys. It was concerning how often he'd dive headfirst into traffic and only then look to see where his teammates were, but I believe given a serious offensive gameplan and some talent big men down low, this isn't a long term issue.
Smart's jumpshot is the biggest concern for his future. He shot 30.2% on two-point jumpers and 29.2% on threes. While these numbers are troubling, I believe he's a better shooter than the percentages show. Far too often while shooting, he seemed to shift his body to compensate for defenders instead of taking the shot straight up. He ended up taking too many fade always and side-shots, and I wonder what his percentages would be if he didn't move as much during his shooting motion. As the DraftExpress video below (another must watch) points out, he also has the bad tendency to lower the ball to his knees before getting into his shooting motion.
His shot selection also needs serious work. He often seemed to be trying to prove his range rather than take open lanes to the basket, and too many times he shot with multiple defenders in his area. While I'll defend his point guard abilities and his natural passing instincts, his current shot selection will not lead to NBA success.
Defensive Breakdown: Aside from perhaps Gary Harris of Michigan State and Aaron Craft of Ohio State, Smart is the best guard defender in the class. He's a tenacious defender, and has the strength, quick instincts and length to disrupt any point guard and most shooting guards. He's excellent at sticking to his man and forcing them into bad angles, and is also a quick and able help defender when he sees his teammates need assistence
Smart's 5.3% steal rate (2.9 a game) is the tops in the class at his position. He's a natural ball hawk, and has quick hands to go along with an impressive wingspan. He sees the defensive court well and knows when to jump into the passing lanes. He will have an immediate impact in the NBA defensively due to his size, defensive awareness and length.
As a rebounder, Smart is again one of the best at his position. He grabbed 5.9 boards a contest, outmuscling smaller guards and outworking many forwards. His 14.9% rebounding rate was only beaten by fellow moxie-driven star Shabazz Napier (15%). While Smart will have to learn to deal with players just as strong as he is, this is another area where he's very NBA ready.
Intangibles: Smart would have been a top four selection last season, but he's hardly the first player to regret not entering the draft at the right time. His mid-season altercation with a Texas A&M fan was well publicized and drew a ton of "immaturity" stories, but Smart handled the aftermath of his mistake very well. On the court, Smart is one of the most competitive players in the draft and every workout seems to bring more scouts and GMs raving about his tenacity. He's a born leader and seemingly a great teammate.
Fit with Sacramento: An inconsistent shooting stroke and mediocre shot selection are two things the Kings already have in abundance, but the rest of Smart would be a more than welcome addition to Sacramento. He's a tough competitor and a hard worker, and his abilities as a point guard and on the defensive end help make up for his shooting woes.
The best part about a possible Smart/Kings paring is the fact that he fits so well with the Kings current guards. If Isaiah Thomas did return to Sacramento, he and Smart could start together; Smart is strong enough to defend shooting guards, and Thomas is a good enough shooter to compensate for Smart's immediate weaknesses. There'd likely be an adjustment period while the two learn to take turns controlling the ball, but both Smart and Thomas are hard enough workers that I don't doubt that Coach Mike Malone could make it work. If Thomas wasn't retained, Smart also fits well with Ben McLemore, and the two would make one heck of a high potential duo for the future.
While Smart's weaknesses might scare some fans off, he has the basketball IQ, passing instincts and defensive strength to be an excellent player immediately. Given a few years of shooting work (cleaning up his mechanics and his tendency to fade-away on his shot), I believe Smart will end up in the top half of the NBA point guard ranks.