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Marcus Smart compares to Dwyane Wade, James Harden, Tyreke Evans



Photo Attribution: US Presswire

Photo Attribution: US Presswire

I’ve done a lot of comparing Marcus Smart to former OSU player (here, here,  and here). But the season Smart is putting together has started to transcend anything we’ve seen at OSU, particularly from a freshman. The scale we have in Stillwater isn’t big enough to handle the kind of season Smart is putting together.

I’m not sure if some of the OSU fans out there understand what kind of player we have on our hands this year (the ones that read this blog do, of course). Let’s take a look at just how special this Marcus Smart season is.

Exhibit A – All-Around Excellence as a Freshman
Using the incredibly awesome Play Index over at College Basketball Reference, I ran a report to find out how many freshmen have achieved this stat line or better since 1999, the earliest season available in the Play Index:

  • 14 points/game (Smart averages 15.0)
  • 5 rebounds/game (Smart averages 5.8)
  • 3 assists/game (Smart averages 4.5)
  • 2 steals/game (Smart averages 2.9)

You have to achieve all of those things in your freshman year to be on this list. Guess how many guys have done that in the last 15 seasons of college basketball? Five. You may have heard of these guys:

Where’s John Wall and Derrick Rose? They didn’t qualify in rebounds or steals. T.J. Ford? He didn’t qualify in points or rebounds.

Exhibit B – Naismith and Wooden Award Winners
Here’s a decent measuring stick. Let’s take a look at all of the guards who have been named Naismith and/or Wooden Award winners over the last several years and see how Smart stacks up to them:

Remember, we are looking at the best player in college basketball in each of the years listed. Not only that, we’re evaluating Smart against juniors and seniors (Ford is the only other underclassman on this list).

Smart doesn’t score as much as many of these guys, but he makes up for it everywhere else. Here’s how each of the award winners ranks in each category. The list is sorted by the average ranking:

Smart more than holds his own against this group of elite guards.

A counter to this is that you shouldn’t just take a simple average of the statistical categories and proclaim that Smart is better than the guys listed below him. I agree…but what I’m trying to show you is that Smart belongs with this group of elite players, both on a conference and national level. Speaking of conference…

Exhibit C – Smart against Big 12 POYs
Did you know that only three guards have been selected as Big 12 Player of the Year since the league’s inception in 1997? It’s true. You should be able to name two of them really quick.

Once more, we’re comparing him against guys who have much more experience than Smart does at the college level. But once more, Smart shines when you look at the rank in each statistical category. Here’s the list sorted by the average rank:

Smart is playing on a different level than we’re used to seeing in Stillwater. He’s a special player, and the scary thing is that he could get even better — and make his teammates better at the same time. If he manages to improve over the next month, the rest of the NCAA had better watch out.

I’m not going to tell you enjoy him while he’s here because I think you already are (13,611+ certainly did on Saturday). But while you enjoy him, appreciate that you have the pleasure of watching one of the best college basketball players in the country — and we very well could have our first national player of the year since Bob Kurland received that honor in 1946.

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