In a smart move, the Boston Celtics selected Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart with the sixth overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft Thursday night. The move instantly raised eyebrows and speculation about the future of All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo.
Smart worked out for the Celtics twice before the draft and impressed the team with his toughness and leadership ability. At 6-foot-3, 227 pounds, the former Oklahoma State point guard already has the physical statue to be a presence at both ends of the floor. The team could’ve gone with either Julius Randle or Noah Vonleh, but could pass up Smart based on his passion for the game.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens expressed his admiration of Marcus Smart during pre-draft workouts. As far as choosing Smart with the sixth pick and shooting guard James Young at No. 17, Stevens said, “First of all, we’re very pleased that we were able to get these two guys where we got them. When you look at the draft, going into tonight, I had both of these guys in my top 11. At the end of the day, you can feel really good about that.”
Smart’s value in the NBA draft seemed to slide after he was involved in a fan-shoving incident last season during a game while with Oklahoma State. The incident led to a three-game suspension, but was seen as a growing up moment for Smart, who took responsibility for his actions and offered an apology to the fan, his team and the NCAA. But some teams found it as a positive element of Smart’s makeup as a passionate player, including the Celtics.
President of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he really liked the “fire” of Smart, which is something the team needs and despite already having Rondo, they couldn’t pass up on Smart’s toughness. Can both players co-exist or does drafting Smart mean the end of Rondo’s tenure with the Celtics? Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeeck said he believes Stevens will find a way to manage the roster and take advantage of the skills of both players. Stevens answered the question by saying, “I don’t think there’s any doubt, I think they can play together.” Only time will tell of course.