BOSTON (CBS) — The news on Marcus Smart keeps on getting better for Celtics fans. One week after the point guard earned rave reviews for his play with the USA Select Team in Las Vegas, a new survey just been released by the NBA shows that Smart is held in high esteem by his fellow NBA rookies as well.
The NBA rookie survey was given to 38 youngsters last Sunday during the NBA rookie photo shoot. These players had to answer eight different questions about their incoming rookie class and vote on a wide array of questions including who they think will win rookie of the year and who will have the best career? Understandably, players were not able to vote for themselves in the survey.
Smart did not finish in the top-five spots in the rookie of the year and best career categories but he did place high in a few other noteworthy survey questions. The honor that should be of most interest to Celtics fans is the best defender label. Smart was named best defender by his peers as he finished in a tie with former Clemson star K.J. McDaniels with 13.5 percent of the votes.
Smart’s play at the Orlando summer league last month, as well as holding his own defending guards like Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, and John Wall last week in Las Vegas, surely caught the eye of his fellow rookies that follow their competition.
Otherwise, his stellar defensive reputation playing at Oklahoma State over the last couple years did the work for him. Either way, chances are if an NBA poll could be held right now on the best defensive NBA backcourt, the Celtics duo of Avery Bradley and Smart would be in the running for a top spot.
Defense wasn’t the only appearance for Smart on the rookie survey. The 20-year-old guard received 13.5 percent of the votes in the best playmaker honor, giving him the third place spot behind Kyle Anderson and Tyler Ennis.
This development should also be welcome news for Brad Stevens, as the Celtics’ offense was devoid of true playmakers for the majority of his rookie campaign at the helm. Rajon Rondo can be as good as they come in this department when he’s healthy, but his hesitancy shooting the ball at times from the outside can limit him in this area.
Smart needs to improve his outside shooting as well but his ability to create his own shot (as well as ones for his teammates at Oklahoma State) is one skill that his fellow rookies expect to translate well to the NBA level.
The final category Smart performed well in was an entertaining one. Smart was ranked second as “funniest” rookie behind Sixers center Joel Embiid. After Embiid’s fantastic tweet-game all summer, it is no surprise the rookie out of Kansas was the runaway winner here, but Smart also has showed off plenty of fun personality as well lately. His antics in a rookie scavenger hunt earlier this week may help explain why:
That kind of demeanor should be a welcome addition to the Celtics locker room this year.
While Smart got most of the attention in this survey, he wasn’t the only Celtics rookie to make an appearance. In fitting fashion, swingman James Young received 5.6 percent of the votes for the most “overlooked” rookie question, a tally that tied him for fifth place in the category. After missing all of the Orlando Summer League with a concussion, this is a label that will understandably stick with Young until he is able to make his debut on the hardwood this fall for the Celtics.
You can check out the full results of the survey by heading over to NBA.com.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
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