Marcus Smart is having the best statistical season at OSU in 20 years

Written by OKC Dave
Photo Attribution: US Presswire

Photo Attribution: US Presswire

We’re not breaking news here, but Marcus Smart is a special player. It’s almost embarrassing how much Fran Fraschilla and Dave Armstrong fawn over him…if he was on any other team, we would be disgusted by it. Let’s thank our lucky stars that he’s a Cowboy.

Kyle sent me a text after the bedlam game that read: “Smart is making a run at the pantheon of OSU players…in one season.” Yes, he certainly is. Those who know me well know that my mind went immediately to the numbers. How can we evaluate just how well Smart is doing compared to his fellow Cowboys?

Here’s the group I compared him to: every player in the Sutton/Ford era who averaged at least 28 minutes/game (70% of playing time). This is a group of 78 player-seasons over the last 23 seasons.

All stats listed per 40 minutes played. Here’s where Marcus Smart ranks in each major statistical category and the six other players closest to him in each category. The number listed to the left of each player is the ranking out of the group of 78 players.


23) Allen, Tony (2003) – 18.5
24) Brown, Markel (2013) – 18.4
25) Thompson, Brooks (1993) – 18.3
26) Smart, Marcus (2013) – 18.2
27) Eaton, Byron (2009) – 18.1
28) Rutherford, Randy (1993) – 17.8
29) Mason, Desmond (1998) – 17.8

Pretty nice seeing Markel listed with these guys, isn’t it? These are all great scorers in recent OSU history. 2009 was Eaton’s year under Ford where he really blossomed into a great player.


24) Roberts, Chianti (1996) – 7.3
25) Baker, Maurice (2002) – 7.3
26) Baker, Maurice (2001) – 7.2
27) Smart, Marcus (2013) – 7.1
28) Allen, Tony (2004) – 7.0
29) Allen, Tony (2003) – 6.9
30) Rutherford, Randy (1995) – 6.9

I love seeing Smart right next to Baker, the best rebounding guard in OSU history.


9) Sutton, Sean (1992) – 5.9
10) Sutton, Sean (1991) – 5.6
11) Adkins, Joe (2000) – 5.5
12) Smart, Marcus (2013) – 5.5
13) Lucas, John (2004) – 5.3
14) Williams, Victor (2002) – 5.1
15) Eaton, Byron (2008) – 4.7

Adkins was an underrated passer…he almost went unnoticed next to Gottlieb.


1) Smart, Marcus (2013) – 3.55
2) Thompson, Brooks (1994) – 3.37
3) Thompson, Brooks (1993) – 3.03
4) Eaton, Byron (2008) – 2.81
5) Owens, Andre (1996) – 2.79
6) Eaton, Byron (2009) – 2.77
7) Owens, Andre (1995) – 2.70

Smart gets a steal every 11 minutes he’s on the court. Compare that to another OSU point guard — John Lucas averaged a steal every 33 minutes.


12) Mason, Desmond (2000) – 1.10
13) Allen, Tony (2004) – 1.08
14) Mason, Desmond (1999) – 1.02
15) Smart, Marcus (2013) – 1.01
16) Boggan, Mario (2007) – 0.97
17) Brown, Markel (2013) – 0.97
18) Allen, Tony (2003) – 0.96

Smart & Brown are both in the Pomeroy’s top 20 block percentage figures in the Big 12…the only players under 6’5” in the top 20.


11) Thompson, Brooks (1994) – 22.5
12) McFarlin, Ivan (2004) – 22.5
13) Mason, Desmond (1998) – 22.4
14) Smart, Marcus (2013) – 22.1
15) Allen, Tony (2004) – 21.8
16) Mason, Desmond (2000) – 21.7
17) Moses, Marshall (2011) – 21.6

*All of the statistical categories you see in a box score rolled up into one number — this accounts for shooting percentage, turnovers, etc.

It’s much easier for big men to be ranked higher in the efficiency stat because they rack up rebounds and points while shooting very high percentage shots. For Smart to be ranked in the top 15 given the fact that his shooting percentage is not stellar is really telling of what he contributes throughout the box score. In this category, he is hurt by his shooting percentage.

Now, let’s take the average rank in each category listed above for each of the players in this select group of 78 players. The lower the average rank, the better all-around player you are.

Average rank in each category

1) Smart, Marcus (2013) – 15.8
2) Houston, Byron (1991) – 17.0
3) Allen, Tony (2004) – 17.5
4) Houston, Byron (1992) – 18.8
5) Baker, Maurice (2001) – 22.2
6) Reeves, Bryant (1994) – 23.7
7) Anderson, James (2010) – 23.7

That’s right. You’re looking at the best all-around season in the last two decades of OSU hoops. Not only that, Smart and Tony Allen (2004) are the ONLY players to be ranked in the top 30 in each category. I doubt this is really all that surprising to anyone. Smart is one of the only players that comes to mind when you think of a player in OSU history that does everything on the court. He is all over the place on the court.

Nothing embodies this more to me than something not measured in the box score. In the overtime period on Saturday, Smart forced two jump ball calls. The first one was on an OU rebound that most players would have surrendered to them. Smart jumped in and forced the jump ball call. This simply gave the ball back to OU. The second one was where he tied up Pledger’s shot and gave the ball back to us. There aren’t many players in OSU history that make those plays.

It’s been said by many, but I’ll join in: be sure to remind yourself to truly enjoy Marcus Smart while he’s in an OSU uniform.

As a P.S., Markel Brown’s current season is 32nd on this list of 78 in the average ranking of each category. That is impressive to me because he’s not really asked to do a whole lot more than score this year. He is certainly in the shadow of Smart, but he’s having a very nice season.

  • Glad there’s statistical evidence to back up my claim that Tony Allen was the best guard in school history. That may change this year, though.

  • I would say “most complete season” rather than best season, but I get paid* to write the content, not the headlines.

    *with compliments**, not money

    **I don’t get those either

  • This comments section is so much more fun than the other Marcus Smart one from today.

  • Phill

    What would it take for him to stay for just 1 more season? I can’t hate on him if he’s projected in the top 10, but is there any chance at all he would come back?

  • reformedsooner

    Some great names there.

    Impressive showing by Brooks Thompson. I was still a sooner fan back then…didn’t fully appreciate how good he was.

  • G-Block

    I have one request: Please be judicious when using the word “great.” When overused, it dilutes the meaning when trying to describe true “greatness.”

    Case in point: I would never describe Byron Eaton as “great.” He was a former McDonald American, and he was certainly a much-improved player by his senior year, and I would think of him as a “nice” player, or even as a “good” player. But “great?”

    I would be reluctant to use the superlative to describe even my favorite players of all time: Brooks Thompson, Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, Randy Rutherford, Joey Graham, Ivan McFarland, or (gasp!) Desmond Mason.

    So, who, exactly, is a “great” player? I’ll leave that and the criteria used for another column. (By the way, if Mr. Smart continues his level of play through March and April, I would certainly think he would be in the conversation.)

    • I think we’re using “great” in a relative sense. These guys were great compared to the hundreds of Cowboys we’ve seen run out of the locker room. I get your point, though.

      If Brooks and Big County weren’t great, what OSU players were? They weren’t Kevin Durant, but we’re talking about college basketball here.

      Eaton was not a great player or a great scorer so I’ll give you that. If he didn’t have the very nice senior season that he ended his career with, he goes down as one of the most frustrating players in OSU history (and he probably still qualifies).

      • G-Block

        Good points, one and all. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of media to create hype and look for next Michael Jordan, but I grow weary of it year after year.

        The original post had me thinking about the last 25 years of OSU basketball. And after some consideration, I decided if I could choose an all-time OSU starting five, mine would be Brooks Thompson (pg), Tony Allen (sg), Desmond Mason (sf), Ivan McFarland (pf), and Bryant Reeves. The superbly athletic Richard Dumas would be my sixth man.

        Yeah, I didn’t pick Marcus Smart because he’s only a freshman. But that’s the only reason. Holy cow, but OSU’s had some amazing players over the years.

  • Andy

    I truly think that Mo Baker’s one injury-free season is underrated. Only other pg that could compare to Smart’s year this year!

    • I’ll stand behind Baker’s junior season all day long. Baker was a better shooter than Smart, but Smart has the intangibles that Baker lacked. Remember when Baker showed up to the bedlam game in RED street clothes and they had to find him an orange shirt to throw on? Hard to imagine Smart doing something like that.

  • And his most important asset can’t be measured by any of these numbers.

  • Smart is a legit contender for National Player of the Year. That really says it all.

  • Doug

    OKC Dave, could I make a stat-nerd request? If it’s easy for you to do, could you run the list in terms of standard deviations above average rather than raw ranks?

    I.e. (making numbers up), if Smart is .5 standard devs above average in scoring, .4 in rebounding, 2.1 in steals, .6 in blocks, and 1.1 in efficiency, he’d get a +4.7.

    • Sure.

      1) Houston ’91: +6.9 (3.0 in efficiency, 2.3 in points, 2.4 in rebounds, -0.2 in steals, -0.5 in assists)
      2) Smart ’13: +5.0 (0.8 in efficiency, 0.1 in points, 0.3 in rebounds, 2.8 in steals, 0.9 in assists)
      2) Brooks ’94: +5.0
      4) Houston ’94: +4.3
      5) Baker ’01: +3.7
      6) Reeves ’93: +3.7
      6) Reeves ’94: +3.7
      8) Tony ’04: +3.5
      9) Brooks ’93: +3.4
      10) Anderson ’10: +3.3