The Marcus Smart experience with the Boston Celtics can be a wild ride, especially when it comes to his shooting.
In 67 regular season and playoff games last season, he shot 40% or better from deep 30 times. He also shot 20% or worse, 31 times.
The frustrating part for Smart is that 13 of those 31 bad shooting nights involved five or more 3-pointers, prompting a lot of people to scream at their televisions and beg Smart to take better shots.
“Guys are going to have nights when they make shots, don’t make shots and if they are wide open, inside-out shots, you have to shoot those,” Brad Stevens said after the team’s Monday practice. “At the same time, I think he can get everybody where they need to be. He’s a much improved shooter but he’s also an outstanding playmaker. I’ve told him we’ve talked a lot about increasing the efficiency of our team and his ability to make plays for others is a big part of that, putting guys in the right spots to soar with their strengths.”
Smart understands that he has to walk a fine line between shooting the ball and making sure he’s setting up his teammates. As the starting point guard, he will be responsible for setting up Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
“For me, my shot selection, just really, really focusing more on it. If I’m open I’m definitely shooting the ball. My teammates, the coaches staff, you know definitely told me catch and shoot, if you’re open, shoot it,” Smart said. “I averaged 4.8 assists in a bubble, one of the highest on the team, and I’m just going to continue to keep making plays for others, and creating for myself, but definitely running the show as a point guard and finding those guys”
Smart’s confidence has always been sky-high, so he’s never been shy about shooting. He’s also evolved into a good enough shooter where him taking shots isn’t a net-negative. However, a focus on taking better shots is part of his evolution as a player.
“I think self-awareness is a big part of being a great player, and certainly that’s something that as you get older, you have an even greater feel for what you can do well in this league and what adds value to winning, and what you might want to avoid,” Stevens said. “A I always said in recruiting, you can get exposure or you can get exposed, right? So you’ve got to figure out what you do best and you’ve got to stick with that.”
Smart is an elite passer. As the team’s best and primary playmaker, he has to shoulder a tremendous offensive load by making sure the offense is running as efficiently as possible. For Smart, being more selective with his 3-point shooting will be part of elevating his offensive output.
“When I take great shots,” Smart said as he walked off Monday afternoon, “I’m a great shooter.”