Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart Sending Mixed Signals

By darinanderson
Marcus Smart
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State sophomore basketball star Marcus Smart is a dichotomy.

On the one hand, we have the basketball super sophomore who is leading the 11th ranked Cowboys in scoring, assists and steals. On the other hand, we have the talented player who is being accused by fans of gamesmanship.

So, will the real Marcus Smart please stand up?

There is very little question whether or not Smart is the real deal on the court. At 6-foot-4, he has the size to make plays inside the paint (he averages almost six rebounds a game as well). Smart can also beat teams from the outside. Although his shooting percentage from the arc hovers at around 33 percent, teams still have to respect his ability to knock down an open shot. Extended defenses leave driving lanes open and Smart takes advantage by either getting to the rim or getting fouled — he has a team high 133 free throws so far this season. NBA scouts are drooling over his pro potential, because he can bring so many positives to the table. Odds are, he will be a very high draft pick this summer (some scouting services have him as high as a sixth overall selection).

However, some of Smart’s critics claim he is already in prime NBA form, but not in a good way. He is taking some heavy heat on social media for being a “flopper,” and there is ample evidence that suggests that the criticism is warranted. Several videos chronicling Smart’s so-called flops are making their way around the Twitter-verse. It has gone so far that even ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla singled him out on a recent national TV broadcast, saying that in order to improve his overall game, he had to stop.

Honestly, the flopping concept has been taken out of context, largely because we see LeBron James doing his fair share of it in the NBA. When someone of James’ magnitude commits an egregious infraction like flopping, we all throw our hands in the air and cry foul. But such gamesmanship has been a part of sports, good or bad, for years. Batters pretend to get hit by inside pitches in baseball. Football receivers take dives to draw interference penalties. And often times, basketball players go down to attract attention of the officials.

Whether Smart is a flopper or not, has no real bearing on his ability to play the game. It sometimes gets him a bad reputation on the floor, sure. Just ask Kansas State fans. But it takes nothing away from his ability to score and distribute the basketball and lead the Cowboys to victory.

Or does it?

I guess I’m kind of flip-flopping on the issue.

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