Marcus Smart became the first player to declare for the 2014 NBA Draft, doing so last July.
Ever since Smart made the surprising decision to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season, the plan had been to leave after it. Now, he’s making it official.
“I’ve told my teammates and my coaching staff, this year was my last year here and I am declaring for the NBA Draft,” Smart said. “I have picked an agent, with the Wasserman Group, a great group of guys.
I truly hope Smart enjoyed his extra college season, and if he did, that would justify his decision.
But from a purely Machiavellian standpoint, it’s difficult to see the gains.
Smart’s most-likely draft slot last year would have been No. 2 to the Magic. This year, he’s in the top six of prospects with Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum and Julius Randle – but toward the bottom of that group. Plus, by delaying the start of his rookie deal, it’ll take longer until he gets his lucrative second contract.
His 3-point percentage barely changed at Oklahoma State (29 as a freshman, 30 as a sophomore), leaving increased doubt whether he can develop into an NBA-level outside shooter. And even beyond his most-serious on-court concern, general managers will have questions about him pushing a fan.
All that said, Smart is an excellent prospect. He’s a 6-foot-4, 220-pound force of a guard, and he just turned 20 years old. There’s plenty of upside left in Smart, who has already shown leadership and passion every team should covet.
Smart is a lock for the top 10, and No. 8 is probably a more-realistic floor. Soon, Smart will get the millions of dollars he deferred when returning to Oklahoma State.
His future is bright, about as bright as it appeared at this time last year. The NBA just had to wait a season for it, but the league will still welcome him with open arms this June.