Marcus Smart has been on the Boston Celtics longer than any other player on the roster. Which is a bit strange to think about considering he just finished his 5th season. That is a testament to how much of a revolving door the Celtics roster has been over the last half-decade. The two things that have been reliable during that time are Brad Stevens and Marcus Smart. With 3 years remaining on a now bargain deal for Smart it seems as if he is going to be here for the long haul.
Smart is an embodiment of the Boston Celtics. He hustles when no one else wants to or can. He gives it his best each and everyday, even in practice. We all love Smart for his toughness as well. He never backs down from anybody. He wants the challenge of guarding a bigger man no matter who it is. Here in this video we can see how Smart isn’t afraid to contest at the rim with centers. Smart plays with no fear and isn’t afraid to be the first to dive on the floor for a loose ball. He probably enjoys doing so actually with as much as he does it.
Marcus Smart has that “it” factor that helps the team win games. His nickname among Celtics twitter has become Marcus “winning plays” Smart. We all know Smart isn’t the best shooter in a league filled with talented shooters. But that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute to winning. In fact, he probably makes more plays that help a team win games than most players in the NBA. It’s hard to quantify that because a lot of what he does, doesn’t show up in the box score. What does show up in the box score is his good vision and play making ability. Every year Marcus Smart has played in the NBA he has been in the top 3 in assists per game and steals per game. (via NBA.com/stats)
This clip is a good example of how Marcus Smart makes “winning plays.” Off of a miss the Celtics look to push the ball with an outlet pass down 6 with 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter. The pass is a bit too far in front of Tatum who has to make an impressive catch and behind the back pass to even keep the ball in play. It appears the ball is going to end up in the hands of a Mavericks player. But then Smart comes in like a speeding bullet to intercept the pass. He takes a dribble and tries a floater. It misses but Smart isn’t giving up on the play. After a few tips, Smart while straddling the baseline, whips a one-handed pass to the top of the key for an open three. That is Marcus Smart in a nutshell.
So being the longest tenured Celtic and being the player who is known for doing the “dirty work”, it only seems right for Smart to be the leader of this team. Those tend to be qualities of leaders on basketball teams, but what about his actual leadership ability? Well there’s an instance last season when Smart was the first one to get in-between teammates Brown and Morris when they had an argument mid-timeout. More Recently, the FIBA senior national team scrimmaged the USA select team and lost 36-17. What makes things interesting is the senior national team is full of young talent while the select team is mostly G-League players. While most people would chalk up a scrimmage loss as a part of practice and getting better, Smart did not. He spoke up about what he was seeing while injured on the sideline. Reportedly saying “C’mon guys this is embarrassing!”
Smart has always been on teams that had a defined star if not superstar talent at point guard. First it was Isaiah Thomas, then it was Kyrie Irving. Now it’s Kemba Walker who also fits into that star category. Kemba is a leader but not the same type as Thomas and Irving. Walker is a much more soft spoken, type of guy. Smart is as vocal as they come, setting him up to be the leader of this Boston Celtics team. If you were to poll most Celtic fans I think it would be safe to assume that they would all feel good about Smart’s leadership. He’s going to show you, not tell you what he expects from everybody. He’s going to lay his body on the line and wants his teammates to do the same. Even if his teammates don’t, that won’t stop Smart from continuing to do so.
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