Not-so-Smart decision should cost point guard in draft

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

NBA Scouts are paid to ask “what if?”, and after Marcus Smart’s actions over the weekend, they’re going to be using that phrase a lot.

Smart’s draft stock will — and should — dip as a result of his shove of Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr. What if there had been a child next to Orr who had been knocked down by the stumbling man? What if Smart hadn’t retreated from the scene of the crime so quickly? What if Smart had thrown a punch rather than a shove?

In an NBA that still lives under the long shadow of the “Malice in the Palace”, players who interact with fans develop a negative reputation quickly, unless their play is unreal.

Unfortunately for Smart, his play doesn’t mitigate his attitude in the eyes of NBA scouts. He doesn’t deserve a nasty reputation, but the NBA is a business and the businessmen in the league are quick to pull the plug on a player deemed to be a character issue if their play does not hold up, just ask Andrew Bynum.  

If, as rumored, Orr tossed a racial insult in Smart’s direction, Smart deserves some sympathy and understanding for what he did, but NBA scouts usually cannot afford to use either of those qualities very much.

Anyone watching that game might say that Smart was provoked, and down two points with six seconds left certainly anyone would be inclined to react to a slur, but the NBA is the best of the best, and behavior certainly is a factor that scouts look at when considering professional potential.

It doesn’t help Smart that his Oklahoma State Cowboys have dropped four straight games, dropping out of the top 25, where they had risen to as high as No. 8. Smart still is a top-flight player, and will certainly go in the first round in the 2014 draft, but may slip outside the top 10 to a spot in the top 15. All it takes are a few teams to be scared off by his temper for him to slide down the draft board on June 26.

Smart’s apology and general regret will hopefully smooth things over for him in the long-term, but he is on thin ice for the rest of his collegiate career, with eyes on him from all directions. Another significant transgression, and Smart could be looking at falling outside lottery range.

According to the Texas Tech athletic department, Orr said something inappropriate to Smart and voluntarily has removed himself from Texas Tech games for the rest of the year, but this is not the first time this season that Smart has shown a quick temper. In a game against West Virginia, Smart kicked a chair after picking up his second foul midway through the first half and being put on the bench. A minor incident, to be sure, but it came during a game in which he scored only four points and made only one shot from the field. NBA scouts may have an overly quick trigger, but Smart has to be smarter to show he is mature enough for the demands of the pros.

Peter is a freshman in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @pbaileywells22.