NBA Roundtable

Marcus Smart for Rookie of the Year

In 2014/15 NBA Regular Season on December 18, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Rajon Rondo trade to Dallas is confirmed. Celtics getting Brandan Wright, Crowder, picks and some filler.

So this clears the way for Marcus Smart to take over as starting PG for the Boston Celtics. Back on draft day, I felt that Marcus Smart was one of the most NBA ready players in this draft class and now with Rondo out of the way, Smart will have the chance to show that.

The Competition for RoY

The early returns for Rookie of the Year are fairly weak:

  • Andrew Wiggins = 12.6ppg, 3.8rpg in 30.8mpg with above average defense
  • Jabari Parker = injured, out for season, played only 20 games
  • Embiid = injured, out for season, 0 games
  • Aaron Gordon = injured, out indefinitely, looks stuck in a 15-20mpg bench role even if/when he returns
  • Dante Exum = raw and struggling most nights

That is the top 5 picks from last year’s draft. A few other notables:

  • Julius Randle = injured, out for season
  • Noah Vonleh = raw, glued to bench
  • Nik Staukas = one of the worst defensive players in league receiving regular minutes, struggling to find comfort level shooting the ball at NBA level. Currently one of the most damaging players (to his own team) in the league playing regular minutes.

Other rookies who are hoping to join Marcus Smart in challenging Andrew Wiggins for RoY are:

  • Elfrid Payton (10th pick) = 6.4ppg, 4.8apg, 3.3rpg in just 24.3mpg. A talented non-scorer who provides plus defense, rebounding and passing ability. His inability to shoot and space the floor or score efficiently have kept a ceiling on his playing time especially now that Victor Oladipo is back healthy. 2nd best rookie in draft class thus far.
  • KJ McDaniels = I avoid Sixers games as a rule so I can’t say much about him except to say this players is receiving big plaudits for his defensive play and hustle. His averaging 9.5ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.6bpg and 1.0spg in just 25 minutes of playing time a night. Those are fantastic possession creation numbers for a 6-6 two guard. His man-to-man defense has received a lot of praise also. A limited scorer and passer.

Zach LaVine has received major playing time while Ricky Rubio has been out injured but LaVine has been dreadful so no RoY hopes for him. Shabazz Napier has been a below average backup PG and is the only other rookie playing over 20mpg so far this season.

Nobody else is playing enough minutes to make a reasonable run at RoY.

Marcus Smart

Smart has played okay but not great thus far.

Smart has struggled on offense. Been inconsistent with his shot. Settled for too many perimeter jumpers (not his strength). Taken too many off-balance and contested (read: low percentage) jump-shots. Has not attacked the paint often enough or earned enough trips to the FT line (strengths in college play). He has often allowed Evan Turner to be primary creator on offense and settled into a more secondary and passive playmaking role.

On defense, Smart has excelled. Already one of the finest defensive PGs in the league. His defensive pressure on the ball has been excellent. Frequently visibly disturbing the players he is defending. Team defense is good.His size and strength has very difficult for opponents to work around. A pit-bull on defense. Lateral quickness is extraordinary. Reminds me a lot of a PG version of a young Ron Artest defensively. Rebounding has been good but Smart is capable of much more and should continue to grow in this area as the season continues.

So expectations wise, and statistically, what should we except from Marcus Smart moving forward?

  • Starting role will force Smart to have the ball in his hands more often. Celtics offense will share the playmaking load across the team so Smart will not be a prolific assist man — which he is not currently suited to anyway. So Smart should get around 4apg comfortably enough. More of a setup guard than a playmaker.
  • A lot more shooting opportunities with Rondo gone. Celtics lost their best creator offensively so this will force others to do more creation off the dribble and Smart is one of Boston’s better options in this regard. So Smart should be able to get up to 12-14ppg. The efficiency numbers will not be good. The FG% and TS%. Neither will the turnovers.
  • One of the top defensive PGs and rebounding PGs in the league. Smart should get 4-5rpg.

Which should put Smart on pace to challenge Andrew Wiggins for RoY

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  1. Or … Brad Stevens could start Evan Turner and keep his star prospect guard in a bench role for remainder of the season.

    Say it ain’t so CBS (Coach Brad Stevens)

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