Marcus Smart ‘Has to Be in the Equation’ for No. 1 Pick in NBA Draft, Scouts Say

Marcus SmartFirst, there was Jabari Parker. Then there was Andrew Wiggins. Recently, Julius Randle moved to the forefront.

Now, it’s Marcus Smart‘s turn.

In the endless jockeying atop the draft board for the class of 2014, Smart has entered the conversation as the potential No. 1 pick in next June’s draft. The sophomore guard for Oklahoma State has improved his shooting and remains a relentless defender and excellent ballhandler, prompting some to wonder if he should be taken before the celebrated trio of freshmen usually in the discussion.

“He’s the only guy in this draft that can dominate the game on both ends of the floor,” an anonymous scout told ESPN.com.

“Why not?” another told Jeff Goodman. “If someone needs a point guard, why wouldn’t you take him first?”

The biggest question about Smart, before he made the surprise decision to opt out of the 2013 draft and return to Stillwater, Okla., was whether he had an NBA-caliber jump shot. He shot just 29 percent from deep and 40 percent overall last season — lower than Rajon Rondo, who is not known for his jumper, shot as a freshman at Kentucky.

Smart clearly has worked on turning that weakness into a strength, however. He’s shooting 46 percent from the field and 35.5 percent on 3-pointers this season, including a 5-for-10 performance from beyond the arc against Memphis.

“If he shoots the ball like that and is making threes, he becomes a guy that has to be in the equation for the No. 1 pick,” Memphis coach Josh Pastner told Goodman.

All hyperbole aside, Smart is still fourth at best in the race to be No. 1. This draft has long been promised to be an intriguing one, though, and while it is still seven months away, it is already living up to the billing.

Photo via Facebook/Oklahoma State Athletics

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