Is Marcus Smart poised for a major breakout season?

Here in Boston, we absolutely adore Marcus Smart. Sure, he's frustrating at times (a lot actually), but his all-around impact on the court is major, and it's easy to take notice.

His defensive presence is something to marvel. He always flies around the court and gives 150%, diving for loose balls and forcing turnovers. He understands what it takes to lead a team, especially in the city of Boston. He "gets it."

On the offensive side of the ball, however, there's work to be done. A lot of it.

According to this study by Zach Harper of CBS Sports, Smart's first two seasons as a Celtic were historic... but not in a good way.
Since the NBA started caring about players shooting quality shots and not just chucking anything and everything like they did in the 1950s, Marcus Smart is the worst shooter in NBA history through his first two seasons. He has the lowest field-goal percentage (35.7) ever for a player in his first two seasons (with at least 3,000 total minutes) and he has the lowest true shooting percentage (47.6), as well. Even Ricky Rubio (35.9 and 48.0) managed a better accuracy and that was with him coming off an ACL tear in his second season.

Defensively, however, the kid is a stud.

When he played last season, the team gave up just 100.2 points per 100 possessions. They allowed just 33.2 percent from downtown and the opposing team turned it over nearly a full percentage point more with Smart playing. Along with Avery Bradley in the backcourt, the Celtics provide one of the most terrifying defensive combinations on the perimeter that we've seen in this 3-point-heavy era.

The phrase "nowhere to go but up" is cliche, but it's true for Smart, offensive-wise at least. With historically low numbers, shots have to start falling eventually. He can get to the rim and create separation for open shots, but putting the ball in the basket just isn't there for him yet.

But what happens when they do start to fall? What happens when he develops into a reliable scorer for Boston?

ESPN's Chris Forsberg believes the numbers are there to prove an efficient season offensively may lead to Smart becoming the next superstar on Boston's roster, with or without a looming major trade.

FiveThirtyEight released updated CARMELO player projections last week, and it was hard not to notice the glitzy prediction for third-year guard Marcus Smart.

CARMELO didn't just predict a monster leap for Smart this season; it pegged him a "future All-Star" with a value of $156.5 million over the next five seasons. After Smart produced 2.5 Wins Above Replacement last season, CARMELO projects him to more than double that total this season (5.1) and suggests he'll make a pronounced offensive leap that will raise his on-court value to $26.2 million this season (he'll actually earn just $3.6 million on his rookie-scale deal).

Smart is an extremely gifted athlete with the heart of a champion. When he can prove to be even above-average offensively, we may have a special situation on our hands.

Photo credit: David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports

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