Marcus Smart’s draft stock should not fall due to shove

Editor’s note: This column is written as part of a point-counterpoint. The other column, in favor of Smart losing NBA draft stock, can be read here.

Saturday night, Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart lost his temper at the end of his team’s fifth loss in six games. He shoved Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr following a verbal altercation after a block attempt spilled into the stands. Inevitable speculation about his NBA Draft stock has surfaced, raising the possibility that Smart stands to lose a lot more than his public perception and three games to suspension. It suggests that his shove may ultimately cost him a higher spot in the draft and contract money.

But I don’t believe the incident should affect his NBA Draft stock.

Was the shove appropriate? Absolutely not. Both Orr and Smart were out of line, but Smart is a Division I athlete on a big stage. He has more to lose by confronting a fan.

That’s not to say Orr didn’t deserve it. If he said something racial, which Smart claims, then it’s not hard to argue that Orr’s actions didn’t warrant a shove or worse.

Still, Smart is old enough to remember the Malice at the Palace, when Ron Artest and Co. attacked opposing fans. He has to know the potential consequences of fighting with spectators. He has to know it has no place in sports.

The consensus is that Smart will enter the NBA Draft following this, his sophomore season. He has already stayed in college longer than most expected out of loyalty to Oklahoma State and his desire to win a national championship. That decision could negatively affect his draft stock, as the 2014 class is considerably stronger than the last. His heat-of-the-moment decision to push a fan should not.

The NBA is not exactly full of stand-up guys. The league has its share of questionable citizens, who also happen to be very, very good at basketball. Basketball prowess earns players a roster spot, not glistening personalities. It’s why knuckleheads like J.R. Smith and Artest made it in the league.

Smart is also a great basketball player. He has NBA-level talent. He has no known criminal history. He has a temper problem on the court, but he certainly wouldn’t be the first hot-head in the NBA. And at only 19 years old, he still has time to correct it. He can learn and grow from this situation.

The aforementioned Artest (now known as Metta World Peace) offered his unique perspective on the Smart situation. World Peace called it a “lesson learned” for Smart in an ESPN.com article. He hopes Smart can learn from this situation and be able to withstand the hate that fans might throw at him in the pros. I agree. Better for an incident like this to happen early on, when Smart can make life adjustments accordingly.

If drafting Smart is now deemed as more of a risk, it would hardly be the first time an NBA team has taken a risk on a potential player. Teams draft unknown foreign players all the time, risking and sometimes wasting a pick in hopes that they’re getting a star.

We know Smart is a great player. We know he made a mistake. He’s not a criminal, he’s a frustrated kid whose dream season is now in a tailspin. NBA teams, judge him by his loyalty, statistics and gameplay. Not on his impulse reaction to an idiot fan.

Alex is a sophomore in AHS. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @aroux94.