2014 Rookie Class: Marcus Smart’s Situation


With the recent news of Andrew Wiggins winning rookie of the year this season, there is a clear front runner for who will have the most impactful career. Wiggins is one of the most highly regarded prospects to come out in years and he did not disappoint with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Apr 11, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) reacts to an out-of-bounds call during action against the Golden State Warriors in the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

After Andrew Wiggins, it becomes a little less clear as to which rookies have the brightest futures. Marcus Smart was not the flashiest rookie for the Boston Celtics and did not garner the kind of attention that others did. That being said, Smart still finished fifth in rookie of the year voting behind Wiggins, Mirotic, Noel, and Payton.

Parker, Embiid, Gordon and Randle all deserve a shout out too but are much more difficult to gauge considering their season was cut short due to injury.

Even though Smart did not have the kind of immediate and eye grabbing impact as Wiggins, he definitely exceeded a lot of expectations this season.

Marcus Smart was brought in primarily for his defense and there are no issues there. Smart had an immediate impact and even led the Celtics with 1.5 steals per game on the season. Smart was lucky enough to be teamed up with a great partner in Avery Bradley as the two of them are one of the best defending back courts in the NBA.

Apr 21, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) loses the ball against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36), forward Brandon Bass (30) and guard Avery Bradley (0) in the first quarter in game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Smart was a great on ball and off ball defender and even though Kyrie Irving killed the Celtics in the first round there were moments where Smart played fantastic defense on him. Smart is clearly not scared of even the best scorers in the league and if his rookie season is any indication, defense will never be an issue for Smart.

The problem is that Smart came in with way to much offensive uncertainty. The Celtics did not expect too much of an immediate offensive impact from Smart and they knew that they were going to have to develop huge aspects of his game.

Smart is still very far from a finished product offensively but there were still some great signs in his first season. Smart made it clear that three point shooting was a point of focus. Brad Stevens loves players that are a threat from thee point range and Smart was not disastrous shooting 33% from beyond the arc. It is certainly a number that Smart will be able to build on.

Smart should only be able to improve his three point shooting and if he is capable of that he will become a dynamic offensive threat. Smart was much more successful form two point range. The Celtics were one of the best mid range shooting teams in the league and Smart contributed to that shooting 41% from two point range.

Smart was much better than expected in his first season and with Stevens guiding him in the process he will be able to improve his offensive game in all phases.

Jan 30, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens (right) speaks to guard Marcus Smart (36) during the second half of a game against the Houston Rockets at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Physically, Smart cannot even compare to the likes of Wiggins, Noel and Embiid. That being said, Smart’s physical attributes are fine for his position and he has an opportunity to be as impactful to his team as anyone else in the rookie class.

Smart is clearly in line to be the point guard of the future for the Celtics. Rajon Rondo was traded away and Bradley’s future with the team is still uncertain. Smart, on the other hand, is one of the only players currently on the roster that is guaranteed to be a part of the team’s long term plans.

The Celtics clearly love what Smart brings on the defensive side of the ball but he still needs to make strides offensively. If Smart is able to round out his game and become a great offensive threat he will be in a better situation than anyone else in this rookie class.

The one edge Smart has on most of the other rookies in this class is he is guaranteed a prominent role on a team on the rise. The Celtics are miles away from a finished product but the fact they made the playoffs while the likes of the Timberwolves, The 76ers and the Magic are bottom dwellers suggests Smart will be contributing more to a championship cause than anyone else.

Smart may not be the most talented, but he could very well end up being one of the most impactful players from this season’s rookie class. Mirotic had a great season on a contending team but his role with the Bulls is less certain and less prominent than that of Smart. Mirotic only started three games for the Bulls this season while Smart started 38.

Apr 11, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic (44) reacts after making a three point basket against the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter at the United Center. The Chicago Bulls defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-107. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Smart had a great opportunity to develop this season considering the Celtics had the freedom to play him on the starting lineup. The great part is that Smart did not disappoint and he finished the season as one of the most confident players on the Celtics’ roster.

Smart will be a part of a great offensive system with Stevens and when the Celtics bolster their starting lineup through free agency Smart should only continue to improve.

Smart fell into a perfect situation with the Celtics as it gave him an opportunity to show case what he is capable of in a prominent role while knowing that the team is not too far away from contending in the eastern conference.

More from Hardwood Houdini