Marcus Smart Will Prove to be Essential to Celtics Success

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Boston Celtics' guard Marcus Smart (L) tries to pass during their NBA Global Games Madrid 2015 basketball match Real Madrid vs Boston Celtics at the Barclaycard center in Madrid on October 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ GERARD JULIEN (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Just three seasons into his NBA career, the word “bust” has constantly circled Marcus Smart. To the more laid-back NBA fans, he is just that. Smart has become the model of “stats don’t tell the whole story” as he’s grown into one of Boston’s most complete players. Box scores give no glory to the development Smart has made over the past season. I believe Marcus Smart will prove to be a very key player for the Boston Celtics’ postseason run.

Shooting

The biggest flaw in Smart’s game is his shooting efficiency. Although he’s averaging a career-high in scoring, he continues to shoot a miserable 37 percent from the floor. The past ten games have been a step in the right direction. Smart has upped his shooting to 44 percent, including 34 percent from three.

I believe Smart’s numbers are slightly skewed against him. Especially during key injuries, he is usually tasked with running the second unit where he is one of the few who can consistently create his own shot. Being relied on to be the sole playmaker is not an easy assignment, especially when scoring is not your forte.

Playmaking

Possibly the most surprising part of Smart’s game is his playmaking ability. It wasn’t seen much in his first two seasons, but his elevated role has really shown his impressive court vision. Smart is averaging a career-high 10.5 points and 4.6 assists per game.

Smart began to flourish when Avery Bradley went down with injury, and even more once Jaylen Brown went down also. In the 4 past games as a starter, Smart is averaging 17 PPG on 54 percent shooting, to go with 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.5 steals.

Defense

As we all know, Marcus Smart has always been notorious for his defensive ability. He’s somehow become even more relentless in any matchup he’s faced with. Smart is certainly one of the most fearless players in the league and you can see it night in and night out.

In the past ten games, Smart tied his career high in steals – at the time – two times in four games. He then broke that with an incredible eight steals against the Philadelphia 76ers. He recorded five steals in wins against the Lakers and the Trail Blazers. One thing I’ve noticed about Smart’s growth on defense is his anticipation. There have been numerous times where he reads the opposing player and then just overpowers them for a steal.

Marcus Smart is one of the most valuable defenders in the league because of his versatility. Avery Bradley will always start out on guys like Kyle Lowry or John Wall, but having Smart come off the bench is critical, especially in a playoff series. Not that it’s easy to get comfortable against Smart in the first place, it’s even harder when he and Bradley are each taking turns.

Hustle & Grit

What makes Smart really stick out to most fans is his fearlessness. You’ll see Marcus Smart dive for multiple loose balls every single night. He’s always prepared to take a charge no matter who’s coming barreling down the lane. We’ve seen it more lately, but Smart has always had a knack for making game-winning plays. Whether it be a key stop on defense or crashing the boards for an offensive rebound, he’s just about always in the mix.

Smart is currently sixth in the NBA in charges drawn. All of the guys in front of him, aside from Kemba Walker, are power forwards and centers, who of course have more opportunities to take a charge.

With everything that Smart is able to do, he’s the perfect “glue-guy” for this roster. In a season where the minimum goal should be to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, Marcus Smart will be an essential piece to getting there.

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