Marcus Smart breaks out of slump with solid game versus Charlotte

A lot of fans, including myself, tend to forget that Celtics' rookie Marcus Smart is just 21-years old. At that age, yours truly's main objective was graduating college with a C average, all while attempting to balance work and the party life that comes with a campus lifestyle.

Smart is entrenched in a playoff run in the highest of levels of basketball and is the key building block for the most storied franchise in the league's history (Okay, he's doing much better than I am). So stretches like he had before Monday's win against the Hornets, where he averaged just 3.5 points in four games, while shooting 24% from the field are expected but still up for criticism.

Then there are games like the victory over Charlotte, where the 6'4" guard filled the stat sheet and was one of the most important players on the floor, in his 31 minutes of playing time. Smart poured in 14 points, while dishing out four assists, grabbing six rebounds, as well as three steals and one monster rejection:

What was even nicer to see out of Smart was the fact that three of his five field goals were in the paint. Although it is a small sample size, it's good to see that the feisty guard wasn't afraid to muck it up with the Hornets' big men, a sign that Smart is gaining confidence in himself. Smart enjoys shooting the three-pointer, but he needs to expand his game to inside the arc if he is to improve his offensive abilities.

It's funny, check out Smart's pre-draft scouting report per NBADraft net:

Strengths: Strong, heady point guard with great size and instincts…Uses his mixture of quickness, strength, instincts, and aggressiveness to get to the rim, then uses his big frame and excellent body control to finish through contact

Weaknesses: Not a great outside shooter. Only made 29% from distance last season. Needs to polish his mechanics and hit on a more consistent basis

As fans of the C's we have seen first hand that Smart is an elite defender, with a great looking shooting stroke. His only knock could be his inability to get to the hoop.

Smart has attempted a total of 418 field goals this season. A remarkable 249 of those shots have come from beyond 20-feet from the basket. Smart's numbers in the paint aren't that bad in the restricted area where he is making shots at a 50.6% clip, but he suffers in the non-restricted paint area where he is just shooting 26.7%, per the database.

But if he can continue to have impressive games inside the three-point arc offensively, as he did Monday, as well as remaining an all-world defender with a knack to drain the long-ball, the C's rookie will have a lot to look forward to in the future as his game progresses.

Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images

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