Marcus Smart put on a show last night.
He scored 24 of his 39 points in the first 12 minutes of the game, adding in five steals and two blocks for good measure.
Every sports website currently has some kind of column up about how good Smart was and the fact that a sophomore is finally — finally — gaining some traction in what is bound to be an epic Player of the Year race.
You know who else was impressed? Kevin Durant. He was court side at the game last night, and USA Today’s Eric Prisbell caught up with him afterwards.
“That is a tough shot to make, and that is a gutsy shot to shoot,” Durant told USA TODAY Sports. “But he earned the right to take those shots. Marcus can play in the league right now. Definitely.”
“He was just unbelievable for them tonight,” Durant continued. “He was doing it all for them, rebounding, blocking shots, passing, scoring. He led them. I knew he could do everything pretty well. But I like his demeanor. I like how he handles his teammates. A player like him, he always can burst out and get 30 or 40 points.”
The line that everyone is going to pick out of Prisbell’s column off of the game is that Durant said Smart “can play in the league right now. Definitely.”
The line that is more impressive to me is where Durant lauds his ability as a teammate. I think that is what makes him so special as a player. Look, there’s always going to be another talent coming down the pipeline, and as good as Smart is, he’s not LeBron. He’s not Jordan. He’s not a once-in-a-generation talent.
But he’s a very good basketball player that is willing to do whatever it will take to win, even if it means playing second or third fiddle on a title contender.