Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 13, 2016
After last season, everyone in Celtics Nation knew that Smart had one mission during the summer: improve his shooting. Marcus was horrible in 2015-16: he shot 34.8% from the floor overall and 25.3% from the three-point arc, yielding an effective shooting percentage of just 40.5%, one of the league’s worst.
However, a look at Smart’s stats on Basketball-Reference.com reveals that so far this season he is, indeed, shooting better than in the past. The caveat is small sample size – he’s played just six games this month. Nevertheless, he’s up to 40.3% overall and 32.4% on threes, for 47.9 effective percentage.
Related to percentage is Smart’s shot selection. Every Celtics fan alive would like to see him drive to the paint more often. In fact, he’s done the opposite. Last season he averaged 4.0 three-point attempts per game; this year he’s up to 5.7.
In any case, the video above presents a side-by-side comparison of his old and new shooting styles. The only adjustment Smart has made is to avoid bringing the ball down too far before rising up for the shot. It’s something to watch for during games if his percentages remain improved, or if he reverts to the old form and the numbers start to dip.
On Page 2: Dream on
For the sake of conversation, let’s say Ainge called Pelicans GM Dell Demps and threw out an offer like this: Jaylen Brown (No. 3 pick in 2016), Avery Bradley (25-year-old on bargain deal having All-Star-caliber season), Brooklyn’s 2017 and 2018 first-round picks, Boston’s 2018 first-round pick, and $17 million in expiring salaries for Davis and Omer Asik.
The Celtics, who probably can’t afford to pay all of their young talent moving forward, get their star while maintaining much of their core. With two 2016 first-round picks stashed overseas, the Celtics would still have a pipeline of young talent despite moving three years worth of first-round picks in that swap.
The Pelicans hit the reset button and emerge with two high lottery picks in a loaded 2017 draft and would have three more firsts the following year. What’s more, New Orleans would have future cap flexibility to build around those picks and create a sustained contender. Alas, having Davis locked up long term under his new non-Rose Rule extension, and with New Orleans desperately needing something more than hope to sell to an antsy fanbase, moving the big man seems unlikely for the foreseeable future.
ESPN Boston – Celtics yearn for a star like Anthony Davis
Pretty sure this is the type of trade, for the type of young superstar, that Celtics fans dream about every time they gaze upon Ainge’s treasure trove of assets. But Demps doesn’t want to be the next Billy King.
Sure, some all-world players have been traded in their primes. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Charles Barkley and Wilt Chamberlain come to mind. But each of them was in his late 20s when they were shipped away, whereas Davis is only 23. As long as AD is happy playing in New Orleans – and he appears to be – it’s a pipe dream to think the Pelicans would let him go yet.
That’s too bad, because in the eyes of New Orleans fans, Davis and the Pelicans will always be second best in a two-team town to the Saints. That’s not criticizing the fans, it’s just the reality, that football is king in NOLA. But if AD came to Boston, he’d be an absolute god.
On Page 3: Kelly isn’t rusty
Based on his last two performances, when there’s been a minimum of apparent rust in his game, Olynyk says he’s glad to have taken that extra time to get right.
“Definitely. I wanted to come back and help the team … be in a position to help the team,” he said. “I didn’t want to be in and out, hesitant. I wanted to come back and be all guns’ a-blazing. That’s what it was.”
The key was building up shoulder strength. Even before Olynyk was cleared for contact roughly three weeks ago, the challenge was waiting for the shoulder to respond from exertion, even the strain that comes from taking multiple shots in practice.
Before Olynyk returned to the active roster, Avery Bradley – a veteran of shoulder surgeries – warned that it might take Kelly a while to return to his normal production level. Well, he didn’t do much in his first outing vs. Washington, but in two games since, KO has shot 12 of 24 from the floor, including 5 of 11 on threes. That’s not back to normal, it’s better than normal.
Kelly has never been a muscular guy, so it would be ironic if “building up shoulder strength” turned out to be the start of a new, stronger, and therefore more productive Olynyk.
Related: Herald – Celtics Notebook: Kelly Olynyk’s health a shot in the arm for Celtics
And, finally: Lamenting the late, great Bad News Barnes
Those who spent their time with Barnes — a starry list that included Moses Malone, Maurice Lucas, former and future Celtic Don Chaney, Ron Boone and future Celtic M.L. Carr — could attest to his clashing blend of talent and unrelenting excess.
Carey details perhaps the most infamous of these stories: the day that Barnes and two so-called “groupies” chartered a plane from New York to Norfolk, Va., after a night of partying caused him to miss the team flight.
After first stopping to consume a large order of food at a local McDonald’s, Barnes showed up an hour before the game, wearing his uniform under a full-length fur coat, and instructed Spirits general manager Harry Weltman to pay the pilot $1,500. Barnes finally took the floor, kept up a line of chatter with his two female friends in the stands, and packed 43 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks into 40 minutes.
“This one’s for you, baby,” he shouted to one of the ladies after scoring a basket. […]
Carey devotes a chapter to Barnes’ drug-crossed, 38-game tenure with the Celtics under two coaches, Satch Sanders and player/coach Dave Cowens. Chaney once saw Barnes, his head under a towel, snorting cocaine on the bench during a game. A frustrated Cowens finally cut Barnes.
“Dave Cowens said, ‘He’s a nice guy, he’s got talent, he’s just not dependable.’ ”
The American Basketball Association, which pioneered the three-point shot, the red-white-and-blue ball, and the Slam Dunk Contest, was flamboyant and chaotic, on and off the court. Marvin “Bad News” Barnes perhaps symbolized the ABA’s dysfunction more than anyone. He was immensely talented and fatally flawed (literally, as he died of a cocaine overdose at age 62).
Marvin entered the NBA after the two leagues merged, and he landed in Boston via a multi-player trade before the 1978-79 season. Everyone was aware he had drug problems, but to read that he was using coke on the bench – well, that’s more than most of us knew. That ’78-’79 Celtics team was one of the worst in franchise history, and epically dysfunctional, too. In that sense, Marvin was both a perfect and terrible fit.
The book described in the Herald article sounds like it will be a fascinating look at a classic “what-might-have-been” player. Also, if you have any interest in basketball history, check out “Loose Balls,” by Terry Pluto, a hilarious history of the ABA’s nine wild seasons.
The Rest of the Links:
ESPN – Carmelo Anthony questions why official ejected him Friday (spoiler: he says it’s personal)