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Some people are still not impressed with Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart was criticized by some NBA people at the Team USA camp last week.



Photo Attribution: USATSI

Photo Attribution: USATSI

On ESPN Insider today Jordan Brennan wrote some interesting stuff about Marcus Smart from the Team USA mini-camp he just attended. Brennan spoke to a couple of NBA people and what they had to say about Smart was not very promising. Here’s what the GM of one Western Conference team said:

Smart was outclassed and should have come out this year. He probably cost himself seven to eight slots [in next year’s draft] by staying in school.

And an Eastern Conference coach:

To be honest, I was not impressed with him at all. He didn’t shoot the ball well at all. He didn’t show a good understanding of how to run a team. He competes hard, but right now he has a lot of work to do with his skill package, in particular his shooting, to be able to play in the NBA.

Brennan offers up this explanation for the criticism:

The way the NBA game is played now, the feeling goes, a point guard either has to be a deadly shooter or a top-shelf athlete who can repeatedly get into the lane off the dribble. A player who has neither of those skills, but does have Smart’s size, must also be “an elite passer, like Andre Miller,” the West GM says. Smart doesn’t have that kind of vision.

Finally here’s Travis Ford with a rebuttal on Smart and his sub-30 three-point percentage:

And players always shoot better when they get to the NBA. I could give you five or 10 NBA point guards right now that he shoots better than.

Travis Ford is like the indie movie producer who gets to date Jennifer Aniston or Jessica Alba for, like, seven months because they’re rebounding from a high-profile celebrity relationship and “just want to get out of the spotlight for a while.” That type of guy has no sense of reality, no objectivity whatsoever. “Oh I know Jessica Simpson is in the Vince Young-Morris Claiborne Wonderlic range on paper but really when you talk life issues with her she has some very smart things to say.”

That’s where Ford is right now with Smart. I can’t totally trust anything he says.

But these are some pretty interesting quotes from the NBA folks though because, really, I had no idea what criticism of Marcus Smart looked like in print. I have never seen it before.

I understand it though. I wrote this a month ago:

Smart’s dirty little secret is that he’s not that great at any one thing on offense. He doesn’t do anything that makes me say “whoa, dudes in the Big 12 cannot do that.” His assets on offense are that he’s tougher and stronger than everybody else in college — that doesn’t translate to the NBA. Everybody is tough and strong. But because of the way he plays defense, I think he has at minimum an 8-year career.

When I think back on Smart’s first year, I think about how good he was at getting to the lane in the same way Byron Eaton was good at getting to the lane — because he’s bigger and stronger than the guy defending him. Now, Smart is certainly quicker than Eaton (though Eaton’s quickness was underrated) but he’s not going to be elite offensively in the NBA unless he figures that one thing, whatever it might be.

We’ve compared him to Jason Kidd in the past and to Kidd’s credit he kind of said “hey, I’m just never going to be an elite shooter or driver so I’m going to become one of the five best passers who ever lived.” Maybe Smart does that. Maybe he sheds a little muscle and gets that Kyrie-ish first step or gets on the Phil Forte shooting plan this season or something.

I don’t think the criticism is damning, but it’s certainly telling.

“We love your leadership and moxie but you better bring something on the floor to the table…or else.”

The best part?

I have no doubt he will.

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