The Boston Celtics are stuck in the middle right now.
Not in terms of talent. They have one of the best rosters in the league and look primed to compete for a championship once again next season. But they are stuck in the middle of trade rumors. Kevin Durant has requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, and the Celtics have been thrust into the trade rumor mix.
Whether or not there’s any genuine interest there is unknown, although when a guy like Durant becomes available on the trade market, every team likely has to take some sort of interest. But was Jaylen Brown truly offered? Who knows?
That being said, based on reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic, it seems as though the Celtics drew the line in the sand at point guard Marcus Smart. And while Boston fans can’t seem to grasp just how valuable Smart is, NBA insider Steve Bulpett put it into perspective during a recent chat with Sean Deveney.
“It’s funny how some fans in Boston, they see Marcus Smart take two bad shots and they want him out of town. There are even some people close to the team that have similar feelings at time,” Bulpett noted. “I think those people would be amazed, the anti-Marcus people would be amazed at what his value is, how much he is coveted around the league as a guy who can come in and be a culture-changer.”
Smart is clearly appreciated league-wide far more than he is by Celtics fans at times, and that’s because of all the little things he does for the team. And, as explained by Bulpett, Smart’s statistical numbers aren’t always indicative of his overall impact.
Scoring Numbers Don’t Measure Smart
While some team’s star point guards average 20-30 points a night, that’s never been Smart’s game. Instead, it’s his defense, playmaking, and overall toughness that make him such an important piece of Boston’s puzzle.
“Marcus Smart is hugely important, as a physical defender Marcus Smart is hugely important. As a guy that can guard multiple positions, he’s hugely important. Offensively, Marcus Smart plays very, very well when the team is playing well,” Bulpett explained. “That seems like a “duh” kind of statement. But when the ball moves, when guys are passing and cutting, you see far fewer questionable shots from Marcus Smart. Frankly, you wouldn’t want his scoring numbers to be high because you’d like to see the ball moving and getting to guys closer to the hoop in finishing positions.”
In fact, while Smart’s defensive game will be there night in and night out, his offensive impact largely depends on how the rest of the team is playing.
Smart’s Offense Depends on Team’s Offense
Since Smart isn’t the type of point guard that’s going to carry the scoring load on offense, his impact on that side of the floor is often determined by how well the rest of the team is playing.
“When the team Is not playing well, Marcus Smart’s shots are not going to be good shots. He is going to be forcing shots toward the end of the clock, he may even force shots a little early in the clock, which is a problem he has had. Marcus is a bit of a feast-or-famine on offense, but what he gives you in your overall toughness quotient, I think is something that is really hard to replicate,” said Bulpett.
Just because Smart may miss more threes than the Stephen Currys and Trae Youngs of the world doesn’t mean he’s not a great point guard. He just helped lead Boston to their first NBA Finals birth since 2010 and was the first guard to win Defensive Player of the Year since 1996.
Smart may not be the traditional definition of a star point guard, but for the Celtics, that’s exactly how he should be described. And even if Boston fans can’t appreciate that, the rest of the league clearly does.