Marcus Smart made a big impression at Team USA training camp despite minor injury concerns

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart making a hustle play against the Milwaukee Bucks. Photo via Winslow Townson

This past week, a collection of NBA players have been in Las Vegas for the Team USA training camp. One of those players is the heart of the Boston Celtics and all-defensive first-team guard Marcus Smart, who suffered left calf tightness on Wednesday and is now sidelined for the remainder of camp.
While Marcus will be out for the rest of the practices, we can't assume he won't make the final roster just yet. With only a couple of days participating on the court, Team USA assistant coach Steve Kerr has said that Smart was one of the more impressive and notable players of the entire camp.

To Celtics fans, this news about the 2019 NBA Hustle Award winner comes as no surprise. There are very few occasions where Marcus Smart is on the court and there is someone else working harder if any at all. Knowing how excited he was to participate in the Team USA camp with his Celtics teammates Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kemba Walker, it's good to see that he applied the same heart and hustle in Vegas as he does in Boston every season. Most successful teams always have a guy like Marcus Smart, someone with energy, grit, and an abundance of effort that the rest of the team feeds off of on a nightly basis.

However, what comes as somewhat of a side effect for players like this are the bumps and bruises that Marcus is learning to manage as he gets deeper and deeper into his uprising NBA career.

Smart, who had already stepped out of practice earlier in the week due to ankle soreness, has stated both his ankle and calf injuries are not too serious, but he is taking precautions as a more mature player.
Having somewhat of a minor injury-riddled career throughout his first five seasons in the NBA, the 25-year-old guard is no stranger to spending some time off the court here and there. His most recent injury of note was the oblique injury in April of last season, which caused him to miss most of the Celtics' disappointing playoff run.

Coming off of such an odd and somewhat serious injury that caused Smart to miss some significant playing time, it is no surprise that he has chosen to take the safer route with both his calf and ankle concerns during his time at training camp.

Although he will be sidelined for the remainder of his time in Las Vegas, Smart will continue to stick with the team, attend practices, and travel with the rest of the roster when they go to Los Angeles next week. There, his calf will be re-evaluated and he'll either be set to go or given a new time table for his return to play.
Smart running an offensive play for the Boston Celtics. Photo via Michael Dwyer

There had been some concern from a lot of Celtics' fans about the risk of injury that comes with Team USA, and in hearing this news, some of those people may feel the urge to throw an "I told you so" out there. However,  these types of minor injuries could happen anywhere and if Smart was practicing the amount he should be in the offseason it is extremely likely they would have happened anyway.

As I mentioned before, making the Team USA roster for the FIBA World Cup meant a lot to Smart and his Celtics teammates, if it didn't they wouldn't be there just like the group of NBA stars that all withdrew from participation earlier in the year.
Former Celtic Al Horford checking on Marcus Smart after his oblique tear. Photo via Michale Dwyer 

While it might seem like there's more of a risk for Smart to keep going with Team USA this summer, I can't help but hope that he makes the final roster when announced later this month. Seeing how he's handled injury concerns in camp thus far, I have to trust him to know when and where it's responsible to be playing for both his health and career.

Let's hope that Smart's time on the court during camp was enough to earn him a spot on the final roster that will head to China in the Fall. That way, we can continue to see the Celtic's core grow chemistry wise and also get an early sneak preview of their play before next season. And like I said, if you want to succeed as a team, you NEED a guy like Marcus Smart.

So, what's your favorite Marcus Smart memory? And what do you think he should do moving forward for the rest of the offseason? If he's cleared to play and selected for the final roster, should he go? Let me know in the comments below.

You can follow Thomas Desmond on Twitter @td_654.