It doesn’t take long for Marcus Smart to make his presence known.
The Boston Celtics’ top draft pick has exactly one week of NBA experience under his belt, but in that short time, he’s already made quite the impression on his coaching staff.
“I’d say the first thing you notice right away is what a competitor he is, the level of intensity he brings to every play offensively and defensively. He’s been a lot of fun to work with,” Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga said before Thursday’s practice, via MassLive.com. “I think we were very lucky we saw the leadership of Kevin Garnett, the leadership of Paul Pierce, and they lead by example more than anything else. So the example Marcus has set, even though he’s a young player, is that he plays hard, he values defense, he values team play. You have to lead by example before you do anything else.”
Larranaga has perhaps the best grasp of Smart’s persona on the court, having spent the past three days training him and the rest of the Celtics’ younger players in preparation for next week’s NBA summer league. He is not alone in his characterization of the 20-year-old guard as a born leader, though.
“Leadership can show itself in a lot of different ways. There’s guys that never say a word that lead well. There’s guys that are very loud that lead wrong,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said. “But then you’ve got a guy like Marcus who really shows himself well in all of his work and has a good vocal (presence) about him. He just has a natural ability to be what would probably be defined as a guy that a lot of people would say, ‘That looks like a leader to me.’ From what I’ve seen he certainly has that ability (to lead). That’s his reputation.”
If Smart has shown anything during his brief time in Boston, it’s confidence. So, it’s no surprise to hear him say that he already considers himself a leader among him teammates.
“Definitely,” the rookie said. “I’ve always grown up feeling like a leader. These guys embrace it and they allow me to be a leader. So it’s starting to get easier for me.”
In Stevens’ words, leadership “is not something that’s gained through two days.” But for a team as young as the Celtics, seeing a player take this kind of initiative fresh out of college has to be a promising sign.
Photo via Twitter/@BGlobeSports