As the Boston Celtics get ready for next season, they don’t have many issues to address. Brad Stevens already improved the team’s depth by adding Danilo Gallinari and Malcolm Brogdon, and for the most part, the team answered most of the questions surrounding them last year.
Some asked if Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown could win together at the highest level. They led the Celtics to the NBA Finals. During the team’s early-season struggles, some questioned Ime Udoka’s ability to lead. He helped them turn things around. And most notably, people refused to accept that Marcus Smart could be a point guard.
However, in his first year as the team’s full-time point guard, Smart proved himself. And in an article from the perspective of the team for Celtics.com, Taylor Snow, the team’s reporter, discussed how Smart was able to answer all the questions people threw at him.
“Brown and Tatum weren’t the only Celtics who were set on proving doubters wrong. Marcus Smart had a chip on his shoulder throughout the season, as he sought to show the world that he could lead Boston’s offense as its primary point guard.
“And show the world he did.
“It took a couple of months for Smart and the C’s to get used to a new offensive system, but by the midway point of the season, they were rolling. After returning Jan. 23 from an injury absence, Smart helped lead the Celtics to an NBA-best 28-7 finish while posting a league-high offensive rating of 120.3,” Snow wrote.
Smart was one of the core reasons the Celtics were able to succeed at such a high level last year, and he did it all as the team’s point guard. Snow also explained how Smart was able to seamlessly take over after a long lineage of stars at the position.
How Smart Found Success
For the past few years, the Celtics have always had All-Star point guards. There was Rajon Rondo, Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, and Kemba Walker, but in the first season Smart stepped up to be the point guard, he won Defensive Player of the Year and the team made the Finals.
“It was widely wondered how transitioning from three consecutive All-Star point guards to the man who backed those players up could possibly be an upgrade, yet that former backup helped to carry the C’s farther than any of those stars had.
“Smart didn’t just show that he was capable of being the primary playmaker on a conference champion squad; he also proved that a player in his position could win Defensive Player of the Year. He became the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton in 1996, further solidifying himself as a complete-package starter,” said Snow.
But as the Celtics continue to explore moves this summer, Smart’s name has come up in potential trade talks for Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant. However, former Celtic Brian Scalabrine thinks Boston should hold on to Smart.
Scalabrine: ‘I’m Drawing the Line at That Guy’
While Brown would be the centerpiece of a potential Durant deal, one package that has been floated is the idea of giving up Smart, too. However, Scalabrine believes that’s where the team should draw the line.
“If I’m the Boston Celtics, I’m drawing a line at that guy. No way! A lot of people want to sit there (and say) he’s polarizing to people, but not polarizing to me. You know, highly value the defensive end of the floor. The guy can guard multiple positions…The people out here, I don’t think they understand how valuable he is defensively,” said Scalabrine on NBA Radio.
It’s clear that the team believes in Smart, but will they refuse to trade him if it means getting Durant? Only time will tell.