Brad Stevens isn't worried about Marcus Smart's shooting, and you shouldn't be either
To say Marcus Smart had a bad shooting night against the Philadelphia 76ers the other day is putting it mildly.
Smart went 0-8, with his two points coming from the charity stripe. That may seem like a big deal, but it really isn't. Smart wasn't drafted to be a gunner or even a focal point of a team's offense. He was drafted because of his defense, leadership and strength. It was also game one of the preseason. Now is not the time to be alarmed.
Smart's shot is a work in progress and the good news is he is actively working on it, according to coach Brad Stevens.
“If we practice once, he’ll come back at 5:30 and shoot. When we were in the preseason and he’d come in in the morning, he always came back at night and shot. He is a guy that’s putting in the work. He’s going to shoot it fine. And I may sound like a broken record on that. But it’s very much the least of my concerns right now with him.”
“I think making a shot’s a positive. I don’t want him to take more shots if he wasn’t going to make more,” Stevens quipped. “But that would not be the case. I’m not worried about it. He took good shots. He’ll make shots. He’s going to get criticized and that’s just part of it, and that’s because that’s the easiest thing to point to after a game. And I love the way that he impacts the game and our team.”
Smart's shooting is going to take time. Patience will be the name of the game. There was a time not too long ago when Avery Bradley's jumper was considered "broken." While Bradley still needs to work on his own offense, he's made significant strides to make his jumper something opposing teams actually have to defend against.
Having been in the same boat as Smart, Bradley can help encourage his teammate and be a kind of mentor to him, even though Bradley himself is just 23.
“It’s just confidence,” Bradley said. “You have to have confidence that you’re going to make the next one. It’s preseason, you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to miss shots. You just have to continue to keep putting that work in during practice and continue to keep having confidence. That’s what we all told [Smart]. He was getting down on himself a few times, because he’d turn it over and not make the next pass. We told him, 'You’re going to make those mistakes.’”
Don't expect Smart to come out setting the world on fire with his jumper any time soon. He may never get to the point where he's shooting close to 40 percent from behind the arc. But there's a chance he could come close a couple years down the road. With everything else Smart brings to the table, a few bricks here and there aren't that big of a deal.
It's early, both in the season and in Smart's career. Time is on his side.