The Boston Celtics selected Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart with the 6th overall pick in this year’s draft sparked more rumors about Rajon Rondo’s future in Boston than the talented point guard himself. Just like any other rookie, Smart will have some growing pains as he adjusts to the professional level and figures out his position, but he has the talent to become a difference-maker right away. The Celtics need additional talent and there’s no denying in Smart’s physical gifts despite his past character issues. Smart’s role and numbers could change drastically if Rajon Rondo is traded (but most likely not), but after watching him recently in Orlando, I can see what we can really expect out of Marcus Smart for this upcoming season.
Marcus Smart’s role at Oklahoma State was at the point guard position and his 6’4″ size makes him capable to playing both guard positions for the Celtics. With Rajon Rondo already playing point guard, we should expect Smart to play more of the shooting guard position and work more off the ball considering the Celtics retained Phil Pressey for next season. Smart hurled up perimeter shots constantly and that will not fly in the NBA. With this bad habit into play, Smart’s role is going to remain on the bench for most of the game until it improves. Avery Bradley’s recent 4-year extension with the Celtics means that Smart will be the first guard off the bench for the Celtics to keep the team afloat while Bradley and Rondo are resting on the bench. Brad Stevens will likely use Smart defensively in full court pressures in a similar way that Bradley plays the scheme because Smart is excellent at forcing turnovers with an average of 2.9 steals per game over his college career. Along with James Young, Marcus Thornton and Phil Pressey, Marcus Smart will be in an endless battle for as many minutes as possible. Smart will likely have the upper hand in this guard group.
Smart was excellent last week in the Summer League in Orlando, but there are still areas of needed improvement. Smart only shot 29 percent from the field and 25.9 percent from 3-point range. He did a good job staying aggressive and getting to the free throw line, but the shooting percentages have to improve before the regular season begins. Smart was having some great moments driving to the hole and setting up teammates from time to time, but he still has a long way to go. During the Summer League, a lot of Smart’s defenders were sagging off of him because of his poor shooting percentage to prevent him from driving to the hole. Celtics Assistant Coach Jay Larranga was coaching the Celtics during the Summer League and sees a rookie pushing for bigger things.
“I think we saw glimpses at times where he got it going and he was feeling a little more comfortable. So I feel really confident that he’s going to be a real solid offensive player.” Jay Larranga said.
Marcus Smart played very well at the Summer League games, but training camp and the preseason games will put him to the real test.
The Celtics have a logjam in the backcourt, so Marcus Smart will not have the opportunity to make an impact right away like Jabari Parker, Dante Exum or Julius Randle will. Generally, lottery point guards excel when they are immediately given a starting role, allowed to make mistakes and still manage to play at least 30 minutes per game. Despite Smart will be in a different circumstance, he will still play an important role for the Celtics off the bench next season. With all of these facts noted, I expect Smart to average somewhere around 9.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Smart makes the NBA All-Rookie Team at the end of the season and the fact that Team U.S.A. likes his playing abilities. After watching and working with Marcus Smart, I was able to see first hand that the Celtics made the right choice selecting him with the #6 overall pick.