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.
“So for me, I just wanted to let people know that yes, we understand that Kyrie wasn’t up to Kyrie’s standard, but there’s four other guys, there’s a whole roster full of coaches, everybody participated.”
“I mean let’s call a spade a spade, right?” Smart said. “It’s true. We were dysfunctional. It takes a lot for guys and especially athletes to own up to that.”
Marcus Smart seems to have grown up a bit over the past year. After wall-punching incidents in consecutive Januaries, the latter of which cost him a significant chunk of the season and the playoffs, Smart dialed it back a bit this past season, and his improved self-discipline–which extended even to small things like shot selection–was one of the team’s few bright spots.
Though he’s just 25 and change, he’s the longest tenured Celtic, and he’s played more games for Brad Stevens than anyone–even after you include Gordon Hayward’s Butler days.
Smart is only eleven days older than Terry Rozier, but it feels like a lot more than that.
Granted, there are some who are going to take Smart’s comments with a grain of salt—and assure us that he’s just being polite, that he’s playing the media game, and that regardless of what anyone who was actually on the team says, it really is all Kyrie’s fault. These people are people with whom it is difficult, if not impossible, to have a reasonable conversation with.
Those quotes come from Marcus Smart’s appearance on ESPN’s The Jump, where he also discussed his reputation for flopping:
“I flop on defense, your favorite player flops on offense,” he said. “That’s the only difference. Especially in a game where the offense has nothing but the advantage, the defense has to do something to get the advantage back.”
Smart is referencing the long leash offensive players get for the contact they initiate with defenders and the quick whistle defenses face if they commit a fraction of that physicality.
Of course, there are times when Smart has pushed the envelope a bit too far. Rachel Nichols asked him what he was thinking during an egregious flop against the Hawks during the 2016 playoffs, and Smart owned up to it.
“That’s a flop. Let’s get that straight, that’s a flop, this was hilarious,” Smart said. “I deserved everything that came my way after that.”
On Friday I said a bit about aesthetically pleasing basketball, and how different players–Isaiah Thomas, Kevin McHale (and, outside the Celtics, Hakeem Olajuwon, Julius Erving, Magic Johnson, Allen Iverson, etc.) moved with a level of skill and grace that commanded admiration.
I also said that LeBron plays basketball like a football player. And if that’s the case, then James Harden plays basketball like a soccer player. Harden has the coordination and ability required to play the game with grace, but he takes the easy way out, using his agility to initiate and then exaggerate trivial contact. As a fan of beautiful basketball, I’m equally offended by LeBron charging the lane, with the ball tucked up into his elbow like a halfback trying to hit a hole in the line, and James Harden’s habit of jumping into guys while getting his shot off and then flailing his body backward as though he’s been kicked by a horse.
Page 2: Where Enes Kanter’s gonna be taking more threes?
Danny Ainge in his press release announcing Kanter’s signing: “His ability to get easy baskets in the paint is a problem for opponents. I believe he has a chance to progress as a perimeter shooter.”
For the record, it’s pretty unusual for an introductory PR release to include what a front-office member believes a player can become.
Brad Stevens at the intro presser: “Where he hasn’t hurt us quite as much is behind the line, then I saw him shooting here a couple of weeks ago and it looked pretty good too.”
Most recently, Kanter talked about spacing the game in an interview with Hoopshype’s Alex Kennedy: “When I talked to Brad Stevens, he told me he wanted me to shoot threes. In the press conference, I was sitting next to Danny Ainge and he told me, ‘You know, that three-point line isn’t for decoration.’ I was like, ‘Got it! Okay!’”
Marcus Smart was, up until last season, a truly awful three point shooter, yet the team did little to rein in his attempts, and that was because (and, in fairness, this is ugly basketball), even though Marcus Smart was a terrible three point shooter, he couldn’t be left alone out on the perimeter.
Drawing a defender out to the perimeter creates space for the offense to work within the lane. Imagine Smart taking up his usual spot on the weak side elbow. He’s shooting 30% from three, which is awful, but he’s also a threat to move with the ball or reset the offense, so he can’t be left alone with the ball.
If Smart were strictly, or even primarily, a horrible three point shooter, defenses would sag off him to aggressively help on PNR defense.
However, stats show that possessions rarely end with Smart taking a three point shot.
Taking the 2017/18 season as a representative sample (because Smart was a pretty solid three point shooter last season, which changes the calculus for defenses), and looking at the NBA’s tracking stats, we find that Terry Rozier and Kyrie Irving passed the ball to Smart 776 times. Of those 776 passes, only 76 led to a three point attempt. In fact, all down the line, only about 10% of the passes Smart received led to three point attempts. The rest of the time, Smart either passed the ball again, took a 2-point shot, or (rarely) lost the ball.
However, what looms large in our memories are not the 2,267 times that a pass to Smart did not end in a three point attempt. What sticks with us are the 162 times that passes led to missed three pointers.
And that’s because those misses were, by and large, ugly. Marcus Smart chucking the ball from deep was, up until he tightened his shot selection this past season, ugly basketball.
And now it appears that the Celtics are grooming Kanter to stretch the defense regardless of how well he shoots the ball from the perimeter.
Now, we could be wrong, it could be that Kanter will become an effective three point shooter in much the same way Chris Bosh did. But the lesson of the first few years of Marcus Smart is that even if Kanter isn’t an effective three point shooter, he can be an effective distraction, giving the rest of the offense space to maneuver in.
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All my life, you, Edward B. Waters Jr. developed to become a soldier; a fighter. No matter the circumstances at hand or what you were going through you figured it out. That’s a trait that’s hard to find because it has to come from within. Deep down inside you made a promise to yourself that you would be a much better father than yours was to you… you did exactly that. Whatever “it” was, you made it a priority to get it accomplished to the best of your abilities. There are many things that I didn’t understand about how you were but I now understand that you had very little to absolutely NO help with anything growing up. You had to build from the ground up and did everything on your own. We’ve had our ups and most definitely had our downs but we continued to push through it all. I can sit here all day and talk about any and everything that you taught me and the things that are hurting me right now, BUT you raised a much better MAN than that. My job is to continue to build on your legacy and continue to be successful and happy. It’s bigger than what’s going on in the moment; you always told me to look at the bigger picture so that’s what I’m going to do from here on out. You left a MUCH GREATER impression on myself and ma that will not dwindle away. There’s nothing that can stop us now…. NOTHING 🙏🏽😤🌊 I love you so much DAD and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE know that I won’t let you down Big Lion 🦁! ♥️👼🏾 I get it now… “Life’s a game of Chess ♟ not checkers! 💭” -EBW II. EIE•NIG TGTIGTI-FTGG NOO! YOU DID IT!🤴🏾 -Lil Lion 🦁~ TEAMWATERS💧🌊
I’ve struggled with mental health issues for over 30 years. Other illnesses attack the body and we can usually understand what they are and what’s affected. Mental illnesses are different. By their nature they warp and distort our ability to understand what’s wrong with us.
Someone with a broken elbow is not going to sit around wondering if he really has a broken elbow or if it’s all in his imagination, but mental illness bends the very perception of what is normal. Suicide and addiction are the worst possible cures for mental illness, but unfortunately, they’re the only cures that are offered to people who don’t realize that they’re suffering from a disease.