Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart hasn’t even made his official NBA debut, but the former Oklahoma State star is giving Boston fans plenty to look forward to this season. Sports Illustrated NBA reporter Chris Mannix passed along the latest encouraging tidbit about the guard’s potential in a tweet on Tuesday:
Next great perimeter defender, per a couple scouts I talked to this week: Marcus Smart. All the tools. Scouts love how he embraces contact.
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) September 3, 2014
That stellar scouting report comes on the heels of some heavy praise of Smart by observers of his play with the USA Select Team earlier this summer. Here’s a refresher on some of the acclaim Smart earned from them back in July:
Former Manhattan and Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez noted how Smart outplayed one of the best backcourts in the NBA in a column ofSheridanHoops.com
I did manage to watch the point guards a bit. Damian Lillard was disappointing, and there was a stretch where both Marcus Smart and Victor Oladipo of the Select Team flat-out took it to Wizards teammates John Wall and Bradley Beal…While there is a point guard battle going on with the national team, the Select Team had young point guards who also did some damage today, further stressing that the future of the point position in the NBA is in good hands with Marcus Smart and Trey Burke.
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohioalso praised the 20-year-old for his energy against a very offensively talented pool of point guards on Team USA.
One player making an impression: Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart, and he’s not even really trying out for Team USA. Instead, the No. 6 overall pick in the June draft is a member of the Select Team — which has been put together for the purpose of pushing national team candidates in practice. But Smart has more than held his own while playing with and against the likes of Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers) and Derrick Rose (Bulls).
Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca told ESPNBoston’s Chris Forsberg that one of Smart’s biggest fans was Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“Coach K actually sent me a text that said [Celtics rookie guard] Marcus [Smart] was a fantastic player [with] the USA [select team] in Las Vegas,” said Pagliuca. “That’s great that Coach K mentioned what a great player he is.
It’s tough to know just how well Smart’s game will translate to the pro level, especially on the offensive end of the floor, until the real games begin this October. Still, Smart’s defense has always been his strength and his formidable size ensures there’s a strong belief he will be a capable defensive contributor right out of the gate for the Celtics with the potential to blossom into much more.
So despite what could be another rough season for Boston from a win-loss perspective, a backcourt of Smart and Avery Bradley should be a fun combination for head coach Brad Stevens watch wreak havoc together against opposing guards.