Boston Celtics Red Auerbach believed NBA shooters were born – not made. Marcus Smart may be testing that theory.
Many critics of Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart still don’t realize that his shooting percentages generally improved to a respectable level last season. For his first four seasons, his field goal percentage hovered between 35%-and-37%, and his 3-point average varied from 25% to 33%. Not so last season. In 80 games, his FG% went up to 42.2% and his accuracy on treys was at 36.4%.
In his bio of Celtics marksman, Sam Jones, 10 Times a Champion, author Marc C. Bodanza wrote the following quote from Red on his stance that shooters are born, not made:
It’s like a Don Chaney or KC Jones. No matter how much we worked with them or how much they tried – and both of them had willingness to learn – there was no way in the world we could have made them shoot like Bill Sharman or Sam Jones. It simply wasn’t there.
Sam and KC Jones formed a solid back court
KC Jones was a good example. He shot 34.4% from the field (there was no 3-point shot then) in college and 38.7% in the NBA with the Boston Celtics. I watched KC perform at Boston Garden many times, and I remember him as a dogged defender, great ball-handler and skilled passer. But even his free throw shooting never improved. It actually got worse in the NBA. He shot 72% on freebies in college and only 63% in the pros.
Sam Jones came into the League as a top-notch shooter and averaged a career 45.6% from the field. Sam was a natural shooter (per Bodanza from his book):
Red understood that some basketball talent was natural, just couldn’t be taught. Sam (Jones) was a natural shooter.
I have written in the past that I would like to see Smart’s field goal percentage up to at least 40%. He accomplished that last season, coming away with that 42.2% accuracy in addition to 36.4% on threes. That wasn’t an accident. He had to have worked on his shot.
It is a mighty small sample, but he shot 2-of-3 (66.7%) on field goals and 1-of-2 (50%) on 3-pointers in Team USA’s loss to Australia. And 80 games-played last season is a significant sample size. Marcus may be testing Red’s theory on shooters being born – not made. But really, Marcus Smart doesn’t exactly fit any prescribed formula in any category. He is truly one-of-a-kind.
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