Few players in the NBA are as confident as Marcus Smart. Which, if you ever happen to catch a Celtics game can be a good and a bad thing. The good is that when Marcus Smart steps up to defend, there are few players who match his anticipation and grit. He’s a pest and in the offseason, it’s going to be the core reason he ends up getting paid. The bad is that his shot selection is some of the worst in the NBA. He is a career 36% shooter and 29% from three. In fact, half of his shot attempts are from three. You would think that after building so many brick houses, a player would be more tentative, but that isn’t the case with Smart.
Confidence coupled with a short-term memory has made Marcus Smart a fascinating character study. A lot of what he does won’t show up on a stat sheet. Diving for a loose ball, drawing charges, deflecting passes, and just being a nuisance is all in a day’s work for Smart. Whether starting or coming off the bench, you can bet that Smart will make life for the opposing guard a living hell because no matter how many screens are set, he will jump through them.
Fans will point out that he flops, but exaggerating contact is one of the brilliant things about him. An example would be the plays made against the Houston Rockets, Smarted irritated Harden the entire game and forced two crucial offensive charge calls by exaggerating contact. Outside of Chris Paul, I can’t think of too many defenders who exaggerate contact but still get the call as often as Smart does. He continually contributes to winning plays and Celtics fans love him for it.
Being in a contract year has surprisingly not changed his style of play. Poor shooting aside, he has shown considerable growth as a playmaker and ball handler. There are times where Smart will slow the pace of a possession down so that he can exploit a hole in the defense. This type of decision-making was non-existent his first few years in the league as his first tendency was to look for his shot. Now, he will wear the defense down and find the open man. Displaying continual growth every year speaks a lot about the work he puts in during the offseason. It speaks to just how determined he is to becoming a more complete player.
Will his value to the Celtics lead to increased team interest in the offseason? Depends, there are recent examples of players departing Brad Steven’s system who tend to fall off in terms of their production. Based off this, teams may be hesitant to give Marcus Smart the contract he desires, which could very well work in the Celtics favor. But regardless of his lackluster offensive production thus far, one thing is certain: Smart’s defense will remain consistent and he’ll continue to play with a confidence usually displayed by a superstar.
If only we all had Marcus Smart’s confidence.