At his introductory press conference before the season, Ime Udoka stated that Marcus Smart was going to be the point guard for the Boston Celtics. Through the first few months of the season, it seemed as though that experiment wasn’t working out, as the C’s were a .500 team on January 28.
But since that date, the Celtics have gone 14-2 and climbed all the way to fifth in the Eastern Conference. Smart has averaged 6.6 assists to 2.3 turnovers over that stretch, and his shooting percentages are up as well.
On a recent episode of the Bob Ryan and Jeff Goodman podcast on CLNS Media, Goodman pointed out that Boston’s improved ball movement all starts with Smart.
“I wonder how much their criticism finally wore on these guys because they’re moving the ball now. And they were moving it even before Derrick White got there, but they’re moving it even better now that Derrick White’s there. And, they’re more efficient. Marcus Smart, it starts with him.”
The duo of Smart and Derrick White recorded 17 assists combined in the Celtics’ recent win over the Charlotte Hornets. Smart has fully embraced his duties as the primary ball-handler, and having White off the bench provides a necessary spark in that area, too.
Ryan piggy-backed on this idea, even backtracking on previous statements he made about Smart’s ability to play point guard.
“It starts with Marcus. You’re right. Marcus Smart, who I unilaterally said look, he may be a lot of things, and you know, I’m a member of the fan club. But I said he’s not a point guard. So let’s not kid anybody. Guess what he’s been in the last month? He’s been a point guard.”
And while Smart continues to improve his offensive game, he’s doing so while also being the same guy Celtics fans know and love. He’s still the same scrappy, hard-nosed, irritating defender – but now he’s a point guard.
“It’s happened. And he’s acted as a point guard… All without sacrificing what’s made him Marcus Smart. That je ne sais quoi recklessness on defense and aggression that makes him a superior defensive player and sets him apart from almost anybody in the league.”