I think we have enough statistical and circumstantial evidence to conclude that Marcus Smart is not very good shooting the basketball. In fact, you would be forgiven if you said he’s really bad at it compared to most NBA players. In fact, ...some have made the point that he might be the worst shooter in the NBA.
Marcus Smart is the worst shooter in the NBA, at least right now. Of any player averaging at least 10 shots a game, Smart has the worst field-goal percentage, league-wide, at 28.1 percent. Of all players with at least 1,800 shots in their career, Smart has the 57th-lowest mark in NBA history.
His shot is broken and I’m not sure if it will get any better.
Rival assistant coach on Marcus Smart's shot: "Lot of movement from catch to release. Starts it low then moves to almost behind his head. The movement means his release is constantly changing. There's no consistency."— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) November 21, 2017
Smart worked hard on his shot last summer, and shot well in the preseason. He's so good defensively, if he ever gets that shot right--look out.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) November 21, 2017
On the flipside, everyone agrees that Marcus is a tremendous talent on defense. He’s a legit game changer on that side of the ball. It goes beyond that as well, he does a ton of positive things on the court (on both sides of the ball) that help the team get wins. In fact, he’s pretty famous for having a positive plus-minus stat line regardless of his shooting performance on any particular night.
In short, he’s a very, very good player to have on the basketball court and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.*
(*metaphorically speaking only, all love here)
That shot though...
If he never fixes that shot, this narrative is never going to go away. It will always define him as a basketball player. Great defender, great energy, great difference maker, ...can’t shoot.
To me, that begs the question. Should Marcus Smart just stop shooting the ball? I mean, isn’t the Brad Stevens golden touch all about maximizing each player’s strengths and minimizing their weaknesses? So why is Smart’s glaring weakness on display every night?
Well, it isn’t that simple.
The ball movement offense is predicated on spacing and keeping defenses honest by taking the shots given to you. For the most part Smart is taking wide open shots with time and rhythm. He’s just missing them (usually).
An interesting thing happens, however, when smart teams gameplan to specifically let Smart shoot (as happened last night). Defenders that completely abandon guarding Smart beyond the arc will stay at home on the other players and even clog up the lane with an extra defender/rebounder. They know that they have a very good chance of getting the ball back.
So again, if the spacing is not being helped by his shooting, perhaps he should take an Evan Turner approach and just stop shooting those shots. Or another example is Rajon Rondo, who has quietly gotten more effective in small sample sizes shooting the ball but clearly prefers not to.
I think the danger of that approach is the mental aspect. Shooting is a lot about confidence and if you admit to yourself and the world that you aren’t confident in your shot, you may never get it back. Right now Smart is still streaky and has won basketball games (in the playoffs no-less) with his shooting. If he abandons shooting altogether, that weapon is gone (perhaps forever).
I’m not even sure if there’s a way to tell him to just shoot fewer of those shots because it runs counter to the “shoot open shots” message and it also plants a seed of “no-confidence” in his head. So perhaps there’s a way that Stevens can adjust Smart’s role within the offense that puts him in more of a facilitator role or perhaps even “hides” him at times.
If it sounds like I’m talking myself into circles, that’s because I am. Marcus Smart is the biggest enigma in the league right now and he’s confusing much smarter basketball minds than mine.
So for the moment I think we’re going to have to accept the optics of Smart putting up 3-15 from the field with 8 assists and a +15 in plus/minus like he did last night.
Should Marcus Smart stop shooting?
This poll is closed
In Brad we trust