Marcus Smart is Boston's longest-tenured player, but his best is yet to come

Things are changing extremely fast for the Celts. Entering only his fourth season, Marcus Smart is not the oldest team member but he has been with the team for the longest stretch. Rookie Jayson Tatum comes in at number five.

Despite being mentioned in numerous trade scenarios, Marcus is still with us. Why? Here is what CSNNE's Max Lederman has to say:

Despite shooting just 37.5 percent from the field this season, Smart has been one of the most valuable players on the Celtics roster. Why? Because he’s a Cyborg warrior whose prime directive is to make winning plays. Smarticus impacts winning like weather impacts a picnic. He’s a tone-setting difference maker

Here are rankings of our long-term Celts:

The number one guy has been with the Celtics for only three years, and number five is a rookie. Things are moving fast, fans. The real plus I see in that list would be the very bright future for the Celts, and we know the present also looks terrific.

Where is Marcus' career with the Celtics heading? We expect, or at least hope, that high-lottery picks will thrive in their first few years in the league. That does not always happen. There are late bloomers. Marcus Smart very well could be one such player. Chauncy Billups was another. Chauncy was selected third in the 1997 draft by Rick Pitino, former Celts President and coach.

Billups was traded in his rookie season and struggled in his first several years with various teams He peaked in 2004. In that year he led the Detroit Pistons, a team with no super stars, to a championship. He also took home the finals MVP trophy. I see many parallels with Marcus and Chauncy. So does Billups. I believe he sees some of himself in Smart.

Both of these players were early lottery picks and have NBA size and builds. They play great defense but got off to a slow start in the league. Marcus and Billups are tough as nails but don't particularly burn up the nets with their field goal percentages. Chauncy was known as Mr. Big Shot for making late-game shots, not for his 41.5% career field goal percentage.

The Celtics roster is filled with youth. Only two players are in their 30's, with Al Horford at 31 and Aron Baynes at 30. If Tony Allen comes to the team at a vet minimum salary, he would be the oldest at 35. Tony's potential role would be as a bench wing playing tough defense in limited minutes.

There is also a buzz about Shabazz Muhammed as a possibility. He is 24 years old at 6'6" and 223 pounds He would fit in as a wing in Brad Stevens' system and could be signed for the vet minimum. Sabazz very well might blossom under Stevens' tutelage. Other Celtic players have done the same. Muhammed is certainly a versatile scorer and can become a better defender.

I attended the 2011 Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, SC and watched Muhammed as the top-rated high schooler in the country. He showed a lot of promise at the Classic but has underachieved as a pro. Here is a video of Shabazz at the Beach Ball Classic. With his physique and skills, he looked like a man among boys.

Look at the numbers. The oldest Celtic, for now, is 31. The longest-tenured player has been a Celt for three years. To some, these numbers may indicate that Danny Ainge is trade-happy. But to be fair, the numbers also show he is trying to create a win now-win later situation for his team. He appears to be doing a hell of a job.

Top photo credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images
Bottom photo credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America
Video: ScoutsFocusEvents