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Boston Celtics exit interview: Marcus Smart has a promising rookie season

Marcus Smart showed flashes of stardom in his rookie year. Can he be the next great Celtics point guard?

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the season, Marcus Smart was seen as one of the more developed players in the 2015 draft.  After all, he had two spectacular college seasons under his belt, won Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, and showcased polished skills on both sides of the ball.  However, he showed flashes of immaturity off the floor.

When the Celtics drafted Smart 6th overall in the 2015 draft there was some curiosity on what exactly Danny Ainge was doing with Rajon Rondo.  There had been rumors of a Rondo trade before, but drafting Smart was raising eyebrows.  Well...Rondo is gone and it seems like Smart is the man in charge of the starting spot.

It was a disappointing end to the season for the rookie.  He had a decent four games in the postseason, but was late to practice and lost his starting spot to Jae Crowder.

Smart lived up to his "defensive expectations."  He proved to be a nearly fully developed lock down defender that was a singular piece to the shut down Smart/Bradley defensive backcourt duo.  Smart is physical and is blessed with a large frame for a point guard.  He finsihed 12th in steal percentage, surpassing Khris Middleton and Michael Carter-Williams.  He is talented in defending the pick and roll; he fights through screens with his heavy frame.  In the future, he can become one of the better perimeter defenders in the league.

Offensively, Smart was expected to struggle with his long range game.  He hadn't shot over 30% from three in his two seasons at Oklahoma State and was projected to be weak from out there.  Brad Stevens refused to have a guard that has a negative impact on spacing and shooting, so he worked with Marcus until he was willing and able to release from behind the arc.  Smart ended the season as an above average three point shooter, shooting 33.5% from three.  Thanks to Stevens, Smart is now a threat from most areas on offense.

Smart led the Celtics in steals per game with 1.5, and ranked third in current Celtics players in assists per game.  He showed a grit and toughness that most 21 year olds don't show...especially in their rookie season.

It will be exciting to see Smart develop even more and further his craft.  His abilities are perfect for Brad Steven's system.  He moves, he hustles, he sets picks, he defends; he is truly one of the best all around rookies.  As he matures, both emotionally and skill-wise, he will be one of the gems from his draft class.

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