Marcus Smart is ready, willing and able to play the role of Boston Celtics court general.
The Celtics point guard explained to The Athletic’s Jay King on Wednesday why he believes the team will succeed with him starting in the position. Smart has played seven seasons for the Celtics, often as the sixth man, but the 2021-22 campaign is set to be his first as the team’s starting point guard.
Critics claim he isn’t a good-enough facilitator or takes too many bad shots to be a winning team’s starting point guard. Having heard those barbs, Smart claims he already has proven them to be false.
“I’ve been heard it,” Smart told King. “We hear it all the time that I take shots away from those guys, but we’ve all seen that that’s never really true. I’m far from that. At one point in time before I got hurt and before Jaylen (Brown) and Jayson (Tatum) got hurt, me and Jaylen were the No. 1 duo in the league with (one teammate’s assists leading to another’s baskets). So it just debunked everybody’s personal, biased feelings against me. I’m always considered the villain.
Here’s why Smart believes Brown and Tatum will thrive once he assumes the burden of managing the game for Boston.
“Jaylen and Jayson, we talk a lot. And I tell those guys, ‘Y’all get open. I’ll get you the ball. Allow me to make the game easier for y’all so when it’s time for y’all to take those tough shots — when we need it — you have the energy to do it.’ So they trust in me to be able to do it and allow them to pick their spots and get what they need.”
Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker all have started at point guard ahead of Smart during his Celtics tenure. Years of waiting for his chance to play the role reportedly stung the ultra-competitive Smart.
His time now has come, and he believes he has the required tools and trust of his teammates to succeed.
“I led this team in assists, I’m pretty sure I did, last year,” Smart said. “Good things happened when I got the ball and I’m making the reads. I didn’t have that opportunity to come straight in like Jayson and Jaylen and just take the reins. I’ve always had, when I found my turn, somebody else was coming in. And I was just next up and waiting my turn. And it?s finally here. Talking with (new Celtics head coach) Ime (Udoka), he’ll tell you, especially with that Brooklyn series, just the way I was able to get down and create for myself and others, not many guys were able to do that. And we’re going to need that. So being able to put the ball in my hands and allowing me to make those decisions and use my IQ and my skills to my advantage.”
The Celtics opened training camp Tuesday. They’ll face the Orlando Magic on Monday in their preseason opener, and that game might mark Celtics fans’ first chance to see how Boston plays with Smart leading the offense.