When Kentucky freshman forward Nerlens Noel went down with an ACL injury on February 12, many experts and members of the media members began discussing who could realistically replace Noel as the potential No. 1 pick in this June’s NBA Draft.
A common suggestion was Kansas standout freshman, Ben McLemore, who arguably is the leading candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year. However, one could argue that a different freshman in the Big 12, Oklahoma State’s sensational guard Marcus Smart, is better than McLemore in several key areas of the game.
In fact, statistically, Smart is distinctively better than McLemore at getting to the foul line, passing and defending.
First, Smart ranks 63rd in the nation in free throw attempts whereas McLemore ranks just 350th in the nation, according to StatSheet.com. Oklahoma State’s freshman has shot 182 attempts from the charity stripe and McLemore has attempted just 121. When games slow down in the NCAA Tournament later this month, Smart’s ability to get to the line will be absolutely dynamic for the Cowboys’ offense.
Next, Smart has double the assists that McLemore has registered thus far this season. Overall, Smart is averaging 4.28 assists per game this season while McLemore is only dishing 2.08 assists per game for the Jayhawks. Thus, while McLemore does score about 1.5 more points per game than Smart, the Cowboys accounts for more of his team’s points when you account assists.
Lastly, Smart is also a ball hawk defensively, while McLemore really only competes on the defensive end. Smart has registered three steals per game, while McLemore only manages 1.2.
While these are only three statistical categories, Marcus Smart clearly is more efficient in several aspects of the game than Ben McLemore.