In defense of Marcus Smart's offense

Marcus Smart has become a hot-topic talking point for most Celtics fans since being drafted. The heated debate on whether to trade Isaiah Thomas mirrors the same arguments people make on trading Smart, but in reverse. Rather than being the league's worst defender, as in Thomas' case, Marcus is arguably the worst player on offense, but that isn't a fair assessment without context. 

In the 2016-2017 NBA season Smart shot 0.283 percent from deep. There's no two ways about it, that's abysmal. But Smart took it upon himself to "jump start" the second unit's offense which was equally abysmal at most times this season. Let's take a quick look at his shot chart (per Stat Muse Labs) for this past season. 

Smart notably shot above league average from both corners. Shots from the corner typically come in a catch-and-shoot situation, basically when Marcus isn't forced to try to create his own shot. Meanwhile the top of the key is his most glaring hole in his game at a pathetic 12.5 percent. Despite this, there is one person who fully believes Smart will rise to the occasion, Brad Stevens.

Marcus Smart has been known to make "winning plays". Moments of his beloved hustle and grit are often followed up with cringe-worthy shots jacked up early on the shot clock which generally frustrate all Celtics fans. The addition of a second ball handler (in Markelle Fultz) will allow Smart to create off the ball, allowing his offense to come more naturally.
Smart has improved his passing, and play making, but he has a glaring hole in his offense that can easily be hidden, in that he can't create for himself. Sliding Smart to play more off ball as a 2 guard alongside Fultz should allow us to see more of his percentages from the corners, 42 percent, and 44 percent respectively, which are very solid averages. I expect to see a large jump in percentages when Marcus shares the court with Fultz as the main facilitator. 

We all know Marcus can shoot. In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals Smart shot a scorching hot 27 points off of seven 3 pointers. Most notable for a shot that Marcus actually can create for himself is when he posts up smaller guards, but until he can reliably add other shots, the most desperately needed thing is for someone else to create his shots. Someone to allow Marcus to get into rhythms rather than jacking up shots when the offense stalls, which with the second unit happened frequently. After such a historically bad shooting year, in more optimistic terms, there's no where to go but up, and I for one really do believe he will get there.

Stats per
Photo per
Brad Stevens quote per Boston Celtics Twitter @celtics
Shot chart data per Stat Muse Labs
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