#6 Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart is a co-captain of Team USA. Since the incident with the Texas Tech fan, he has stepped up and raised his IQ of play. He has made better decisions with the basketball. He hasn’t settled for as many jumpshots. He has taken more opportunities in the post to break down the defense. More importantly, his defensive intensity hasn’t waned. He is an elite NCAA defender right now. In fact, it is at such a high level, that entering the league, he may already be an above average NBA defender. Yes, he does need to get used to NBA defensive rules, but no one is taking away his lateral quickness, defensive posture, 6’8″ wingspan, and tremendously quick hands.
One can’t help but draw some similarities to Kyle Lowry in terms of physique two-way play. Lowry had a quicker first-step out of Villanova, but both players were lauded for their work ethic, strength at their position, and defensive intensity. In fact, he’s most likely to end up in the top-5 and bump someone else down. If Smart develops his offensive game to get to Lowry’s level, based around 3-point range, the Lakers get a steal.