We are now 25 games into the NBA regular season, and player statistics are shaping out to what looks to be the expectations going forward for each individual player.
For Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, though he has shown improvement in some areas since the 2016-2017 season, many people are scratching their heads and asking the question, “Is he really better, though?”
Yes, his rebounding and assist totals are better than they were last season, (and yes, I know we are just under a quarter of the way through the season but just play along, please) but there is one trait that Marcus Smart still wields and it virtually makes him no different than last season in terms of his offensive game: Inconsistency.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
During the month of October when the NBA regular season was just underway, Marcus Smart posted an average of 11.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in five games played. However, even though these numbers look promising, they do not tell the whole story.
While 11.4 points-per-game seems like a good number to have from a sixth-man on the roster, Marcus Smart was shooting an underwhelming 32-percent from the floor and 26-percent from three-point range.
In defense of Marcus Smart, because of the Gordon Hayward injury during opening night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the starting lineup was being changed nearly every single game for the first few weeks, which could have been the reason for inconsistent play from Smart as well as many of the other Boston Celtics players during that same stretch of games.
But the roller coaster of statistics continued into the month of November.
The Boston Celtics played 15 games during the month of November, bringing their win streak to 16 games and having it come to an end courtesy of the Miami Heat on November 22nd.
The list of players on the Boston Celtics roster that played better than expected during the win streak is long, but Smarts inconsistent offensive play during these games was still in full effect.
During November Smart failed to shoot over 40-percent from the field during any game (he shot exactly 40-percent during their November 6th game against Atlanta) while also shooting having five games where he did not make a single three-point shot (0-16 during those games). He averaged 9.6 points, 5.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds during that span.
The Celtics only lost two games during those 30 days, and the bench play of guys like Terry Rozier, Daniel Theis, and Semi Ojeleye played a large part in the team’s success.
Now we are two games into December, and even though Marcus Smart has shot the ball much better over his last five games (12.8 points, 53-percent from the field, 44-percent from three-point range) the individual statistics from each of those games gives you no reason to believe that he can continue to increase his scoring average.
Marcus Smart makes his impact on the floor through his defense and facilitation of the ball on offense, but if the Boston Celtics want to win an NBA Championship, they need the fourth-year player to make more shots on a consistent basis.
The beginning of the 2017-2018 season has not brought a new-and-improved Marcus Smart to fruition, so let’s see if the holiday spirit and the new year can bring to life the Marcus Smart that we all so crave.