With his lesson learned, Marcus Smart ready to prove he can play at ‘next level’
|06.13.14 at 7:48 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Marcus Smart has high expectations.
Those expectations include a high draft position on June 26, a long, successful and financially beneficial career and the chance to compete for an NBA title.
Now, the issue is whether the Celtics help Smart fulfill those dreams. The Celtics held a pre-draft workout on Friday morning that featured six guards. The group was headlined by the 20-year-old who spent two seasons at Oklahoma State.
Several mock drafts, including the most recent on WEEI.com’s Green Street, have the former Cowboy selected between spots 4-8 on June 26. So, landing in Boston with the No. 6 overall pick is a strong possibility.
“I just came out here and competed,” Smart said of his workout, “I wanted to prove that I can play at the next level.”
Coach Brad Stevens had a strong takeaway from watching Smart work out.
“I thought he was good, he was physical, he’s a leader,” Stevens said. “[I] thought he shot the ball well in drills. He’s got a way about him that people follow. He’s a very tough guy, he competed the whole time. My expectations for him were high in that regard, but he certainly met them. He’s going to be a good player.”
Not surprisingly, one of the first questions Smart fielded was about the altercation he was involved with back on Feb. 8 when he shoved a fan at Texas Tech.
“Surprisingly, not many teams have asked me about it,” he offered, “They kind of just understand it’s the competitiveness in [me]. … And I know I’ve learned my lesson from it.”
Stevens had little concern as well. When asked if he had any concerns about Smart’s maturity, Stevens replied, “No, not at all.”
Among the other players Smart worked out with were Zach LaVine, Elfrid Payton, Jordan Clarkson, Nik Stauskas and Gary Harris.
“We’re all out here competing,” Smart said about the group. “We’re competing, but we’re also getting along. … Everybody’s out here trying to do one thing, and has one goal, just show teams, you know, hey, we’re coming in here and we’re ready to play.”
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has referenced Smart’s “fire” in the past, and Smart was asked Friday if getting under his opponent’s skin is something he tries to do.
“I mean, I wouldn’t say that,” he said after taking a moment to think about it. “If it happens, it happens,” he added.
The biggest takeaway from listening to Smart speak was that he’s not afraid to challenge anyone.
“My biggest attribute about me, I’m a competitor. I show my best skills when it’s game on the line and somebody’s guarding me and there’s competition,” he said. “So whoever you put in front of me, you know, I’m not going to back down. I’ve never backed down from a challenge and that’s not me, that’s not what my makeup is.”
As all the prospects have been, Smart was asked if he got a chance to speak with Rajon Rondo.
“Actually, no,” he said, although Rondo was in to watch Friday’s workouts. But when asked if Rondo was a guy he sees some of himself in, Smart lit up. “Oh definitely,” he responded. “The guy just makes winning plays, on both ends. You know, he’s not one of the best shooters, but he can still affect the game in many ways. I’m not one of the best shooters. Everybody knows that, that’s what I’m working on. But I can still affect the game in many ways.”
Asked how he was working on his shooting, Smart said: “I’m trying to begin at the 3-point line, the NBA 3-point line, just getting up shots and repetition.
As for the issue of Rondo already being in Boston, and if that was a concern to him, Smart had nothing but praise for Rondo and said he would be on board with learning from the veteran.
“Not at all,” was Smart’s immediate reaction as to him being bothered by Rondo’s grip on the starting point guard role. “Rondo’s one of the greatest point guards to ever play this game. If I’m fortunate enough where Boston picks me, and that means I have to sit on the bench and take after Rondo, that’s an honor.”
Smart also made it clear that money is of no concern to him. He had the chance to potentially be a higher pick had he entered the 2013 draft, but seems very comfortable with his decision to return to school.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Smart said right away. “I’m going to get drafted sooner or later, if it’s then or if it’s now, I’m still going to get drafted. Everybody thinks it’s about your first contract. It’s not about your first contract, it’s about your second and your third. Not only that, I love playing basketball, so really it doesn’t matter about the money. I think I showed that coming back.”
This was Smart’s fifth pre-draft workout. He is scheduled to go on two more.
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