No matter what the statistics say, Marcus Smart’s confidence in his shot-making ability doesn’t waver.
Smart struggled mightily from beyond the arc in his first few years in the league, but he has improved into an average 3-point shooter, who can catch an occasional hot streak. It’s just as likely for his shooting to trend in the other direction, too.
After shooting 34.7 percent from deep last season on a career-high 6.6 attempts per game — the year prior Smart took on average 4.3 treys per contest — the guard entering his seventh year in the NBA said he took a harder look at his shot selection this offseason.
It is something Smart had no choice but to revisit, especially with Kemba Walker sidelined for the first few weeks of the season due to a knee injury. Walker’s absence will put more of the point guard duties on Smart, who will need to facilitate the attack while also shooting more efficiently and finding his shot within the flow of the offensive system.
“For me, my shot selection, just really, really focusing more on it. If I’m open I’m definitely shooting the ball,” Smart said. “My teammates, the coaching staff, (have) definitely told me, ‘Catch and shoot. If you’re open, shoot it.’ 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.”
It’s sometimes hard to believe that Smart holds the Boston Celtics record for most 3-pointers made in a single game, which came last year when Smart knocked down 11-of-22 treys en route to a 37-point performance versus the Phoenix Suns.
But that showing encapsulates Smart for the streaky long-distance shooter that he is. He’ll keep firing even if he doesn’t have the hot hand.
In the regular season and playoffs last year, Smart took double-digit attempts from long range 16 times, with the Celtics going 6-10 in this contests. Smart needs to do a better job of finding an equilibrium when it comes to hoisting 3-pointers and showcasing his other skills.
Smart’s stellar and underrated passing ability could take more of a front seat this year as he will be given more responsibility to dictate the offense. Smart will also have to be receptive to the idea of letting his shot come to him and setting up teammates on a more consistent basis.
“He’s a much improved shooter but he’s also an outstanding playmaker,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
But whether Smart follows suit and cuts back a little on his 3-point shooting is always difficult to tell. Smart sees himself more as a star instead of what he has proven he can be, which is player who is the glue of the team and showcases an unrelenting effort that trumps the skill of others on a nightly basis.
But those aren’t qualities that get players in the limelight. Smart wants to shoot. He fancies himself as a game-changing shooter.
“When I take great shots, I’m a great shooter,” Smart said.