For as much as I love watching Marcus Smart hustle and play defense for the Celtics, it still hurts watching him shoot the ball on most nights.
Dating back to his days at Oklahoma State, there were always question marks: what’s up with his jump shot? Can he run an offense as a point guard?
His defense is as strong as any player in the league and his rebounding is a direct result of his tenaciousness to help his team in anyway he can.
I mean, really. Look at this defense:
But can he become an offensive threat?
There’s no shame in being the heir-apparent to Tony Allen, but there is greatness in Smart. And if there is a time when Smart does realize his potential to become a cornerstone for this franchise, the 2016-2017 campaign is his opportunity.
For one, he’s actually been healthy this summer and able to work on his game without limitations. I admit to being one of the many who felt his gruesome hand injury in Summer League last summer affected his shooting early on last season, but there’s no excuse this time around; his jump shot must improve.
Smart shot 34.8 percent from the floor in 61 games (10 starts) last season after shooting 36.7 percent in 67 games (38 starts) as a rookie. Abysmal as those figures may look, it doesn’t get any better the farther he shoots from the basket.
Smart shot 25.3 percent on three-pointers on 251 attempts - 45.6 percent of his shots last season. For starters, 45.6 percent of his total shots should not be from deep. Smart is a driver. He was drafted to be a driver and create contact going to the rim.
Subtracting his shots from downtown, Smart shot 42.7 on two-point field goal attempts (mid-range, layups). Not a great percentage to have, but it’s a lot better than 25.3 percent from three.
Marcus Smart was 46/201 (22.9%) on threes with a touch time of less than two seconds, 15/40 (37.5%) with a touch time of two seconds or more— Danny Leroux (@DannyLeroux) August 23, 2016
I’m stressing Smart’s shooting ability so much because that is, literally, the only thing holding him back from being a superstar in the NBA.
Enough has been said and written about Smart’s CARMELO projections for next season and his plus-minus figures (which are actually surprisingly good for a guy who can’t shoot) so i’ll keep this short and sweet.
If Smart had made, rather than missed, 24 of his 241 three-point attempts last season, his three-point percentage would have been 35.2, roughly the same as John Wall’s 35.1. Those 24 shots alone would’ve boosted Smart’s overall percentage from the floor to 39.3, not including any improvements on his two-point field goals.
Celtics fans aren’t asking for a Kawhi Leonard type of improvement out of Smart, although that would be great! But in order to take Smart and this team seriously, improvements must happen.
Is Smart the third star on this roster behind Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford? He has the potential to be. But the time has come for Smart’s potential to turn into offensive production.
Photo Courtesy: Winslow Townson/AP
Follow David McCracken on Twitter @crackemc
David McCracken 8/25/2016 09:00:00 AM Tweet Edit