Marcus Smart plays like a savage beast on the basketball court and it’s absolutely beautiful to watch. Players who hustle their butts off always grab my attention whether I’m scouting players or just watching games for enjoyment, and that has been the case with Smart the past two years at Oklahoma State.

But Smart isn’t in Stillwater anymore after being drafted by the Boston Celtics with the No. 6 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Smart’s now a rookie in Boston and not the best player on the floor like he was in college, so what kind of expectations should be set for him?

Immediate defensive impact

Smart is unique since I think he will be an immediate difference maker on the defensive end of the floor, which can’t be said of many rookies. After averaging 5.1 rebounds and 3.3 steals per 40 minutes pace adjusted, Smart projects to be an effective pro defender from day one.

At 6-foot-3, with an 81-inch wingspan and outstanding lateral quickness, Smart will be able to engulf point guards, but he’s also built like a freight train so he should be able to cover two-guards and some small forwards. This versatility will win him playing time in Brad Stevens‘ defensive system, which prefers its perimeter defenders to switch on the pick-and-roll if the situation is right.

Yet, that still sells Smart short. He’s not just a physical specimen, but also a cerebral player who rarely makes defensive errors. Smart clearly had some good coaching from a young age considering his ability to properly rotate, angle ball handlers into the big on the pick-and-roll, and fight through both on- and off-ball screens. The 20-year-old guard doesn’t need much encouragement to stay mentally engaged on the defensive end, as he never takes plays off.

Smart is also adept at chasing …read more