Dec 14, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart (36) shoots the ball as San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Jonathon Simmons (17) defends during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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Marcus Smart came into his third season with the expectation that he was going to take over the 6th man role, and propel his team’s second unit. While injuries have prevented him from staying on the bench, Smart has done just that. His playmaking ability is very much improved from last season, and his three point percentage is up from last year as well.
Not many people around the league view Smart as a franchise caliber player. This mainly due to the fact that he doesn’t have flashy statistics, or shooting percentages that jump off the page.
Smart is a terrific basketball player. He is a vital piece to this Celtics team, and only Boston fans truly know why he is so great. So here’s what makes the third year guard a true franchise caliber player.
Dec 22, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) makes a pass while lying down against Indiana Pacers guard Aaron Brooks (00) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Boston defeats Indiana 109-102. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Little Things
Smart does not have a great jump shot. While it has improved over time, he doesn’t pose a threat on the outside to scare opposing defenses. In today’s NBA, it is difficult to make a substantial impact on a game without having a respectable jump shot. Smart breaks this mold. He does all the little things that contribute towards winning.
Whether it be taking a charge to change the momentum of the game, or diving on the floor for a loose ball, or fighting around every single screen that is set on him, the Celtics play well when Smart is on the floor partly because of the little things.
There are times when all of the non-stat sheet plays add up to a stretch in the game where Smart completely dominates both ends of the floor. Think back to December’s matchup with the Cavs. The Celtics were down 20 points in the second half, but Smart took over. He shut down the Cleveland guards and picked apart their defense with his passing ability.
Not many players can go against the defending champs and complete a 20 point comeback all by himself.
Feb 9, 2017; Portland, OR, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) shoots in between Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu (8) and guard Damian Lillard (0) in the second half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Sometimes it is difficult for me to remember that Smart is a point guard. He’s not built like one, in fact he’d be better off playing football if you look at his frame. What comes with his strong frame is versatility.
Versatility is one of the most important skills a player can have these days. Smart has the ability to guard all five positions on the court even though he’s only 6’4″. I’ll never forget when he shut down Paul Millsap, who was torching the Celtics for 45 points. The second year guard overcame a five inch gap to lock down an All Star caliber player who was on fire.
Smart’s versatility is also on display when he posts up. Opposing teams have to put guards on him, so he takes them down low. This is where his strength is too overwhelming for normal guards to handle. If defenses don’t guard Smart with larger players, he will tear opposing teams apart.
Oct 4, 2016; Amherst, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) reacts during the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at William D. Mullins Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Smart’s intangibles are off the chart. He is the closest thing the Celtics have had to Kevin Garnett in terms of heart. The picture above is him getting pumped up during a PRESEASON game. Smart plays with intensity, hustle, and a will to win.
This is what makes him Boston’s version of Draymond Green. Green is the least flashy player on his team in Golden State, but he is the most important piece to their championship formula. In just his third season, Smart is a game changing player even though he doesn’t shoot well.
Honestly, it wouldn’t be very fair if Smart developed a good jumper. I’m hoping he does, because it would just be another way that he can impact the game. If there’s a way to change a game for the better, Smart is going to do it. He is a great basketball player, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.